How to read a Poem

you read,
head inclined,
like a heliotropic sunflower bud,
closed lips moving as softly as
new born butterfly wings,
light and air rearranging themselves
into a radiant stage for your thoughts,
does that poem, that tongue-tied page,
don a damask gown and ballerina shoes,
declaiming slowly, animated and free,

or do you imagine yourself reading aloud,
covered in the russet tears of weeping chinars,
one outstretched limb at an incongruous angle
to the listening sky,
perhaps there are characters,
like you, like me,
strange faces with familiar eyes,
whose lips do you see,
whose voice do you hear,
laughing, despairing, in love,
is that Faiz walking out through the mist,
or Hafiz, the beloved’s wine still purple wet on his lips,
or the unparalleled Noor Jahan
wooing Jahangir in her Sheesh Mahal,
her hennaed hands the colour
of Agra’s sandstone fort;

you hold your breath,
between the lines, beside the words,
like a raindrop that pauses midstream
to adore the ground that will
break his heart,
like the shore that listens alone
for a single wave,
that never returns,
that never departs,

you hear,
you see,
and everything i ever felt,
everything we ever were,
free-falling through speechless time,
converges at the tip of your forefinger,
motionless,
waiting for the rain to stop, for the waves to end,
for the music to die, for the curtains to fall,
for the sound, the colours, the henna to fade,
before you turn the page.

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53 thoughts on “How to read a Poem

  1. What a wonderful celebration of how it feels to be lost in words – stunning imagery throughout but my favourite was – head inclined, like a heliotropic sunflower bud – magic!

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  2. You have described the process perfectly of how a poem (hopefully) is read and savored! I like the last stanza where you describe the feelings AFTER the poem is read, before the page is turned. Yes, there is just such a pause where you ingest the words you just read.

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  3. “you hold your breath,”
    Certainly, i did while reading your poem silently, and exhale in sheer adoration as i came to the end

    Have a lovely Sunday Thotpurge

    much love…

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  4. like the shore that listens alone
    for a single wave,
    that never returns,
    that never departs,

    This is soo beautiful! Love the intense nature of your poem 🙂

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Thanks so much Matthew. Faiz and Hafiz are poets of course and Noor Jehan a Mughal queen from 17th century India. The others are just people lost in their own version of poetry!

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  5. Your last lines are perfect. They speak of that wonderful feeling that feeds the soul into delicious excitement, understanding, into the poetic high that keeps up turning pages… and going back for more.

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  6. This is the magic! I love the images you have chosen–I want to lie down with your words and feel the spaces between them

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  7. I think you have captured the most perfect observations here, infused them with meaning and emotion A remarkable piece of poetry.

    Like

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