The Poem Is Not

The poem is not a lover. A lover wants comfort, cajoling,
even the cold-hearted ones keep coming back for

reassurance. The poem is not a friend. It is not there
to listen, to reinforce, to hug. The poem is not a child.

Even though you birthed it. Even though you dress its
wounds and feed its soul. It will deny your motherhood

in a second, without remorse. That evening, on the terrace,
the Cauvery bare below us, her sandy underbelly exposed

to the stars, the night dipping lower and lower and finding
no reflection, you said the poem was a river. One that

came from the low mountains, that begged for rain, that
in the summer swallowed its own words to slake its thirst.

I watched the ink run through a forest, tumble down the
hills chased by monsoon clouds, the abundance running over

its banks, spreading through the fields, the villages, the
rotting bodies, like blood from a head wound- a river in

rage, the page blank, flapping wet against my dismembered
limbs. How do I make you see the boat crossing that river?

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58 thoughts on “The Poem Is Not

  1. kaykuala

    How do I make you see
    the boat crossing that river?

    Good question Rajani! How does one make an unappreciative soul appreciate poetry! They don’t seem to see the beauty of the words but just as plain words! Pity!

    Hank

    Like

  2. This is fantastic β€” the reflection on what a poem is takes the form of its tenacity, its floods, its capacity to overpower and create a surge. The image of Cauvery with the underbelly and stars and deepening recesses of the night is so beautifully crafted.
    That last question is like a breath of relief after undergoing this tumult. How exquisite! πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. A lover wants comfort, cajoling,
    even the cold-hearted ones keep coming back for

    reassurance.

    That is so true!

    But that aside, this is far and away the best poem I have read in a while. A masterpiece. i feel the richer for having read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So so beautiful Ranjani – a pure pleasure to read over and over again.
    Nature is a wonderful poet and how easy to get lost in its words, so easy that sometimes we fail to see the boat crossing the river, fail to see the boat is important.
    Anna :o]

    Like

  5. I love the way your poem moves from what it is not to the boat crossing the river, Rajani, and the thought that poetry gets us where we need to be, even saves lives. I especially love the lines:
    ‘…The poem is not a child.

    Even though you birthed it. Even though you dress its
    wounds and feed its soul. It will deny your motherhood

    in a second, without remorse’.

    and the wonderful descriptive lines:
    ‘I watched the ink run through a forest, tumble down the
    hills chased by monsoon clouds, the abundance running over

    its banks, spreading through the fields, the villages, the
    rotting bodies…
    …the page blank, flapping wet against my dismembered
    limbs’.

    Like

  6. When abundance becomes too much–not lover, friend, or child–then, indeed, it is an overflow carrying the rot. I see the wound and cannot stanch the flow of blood. I am the poem itself, and if there is a boat crossing safety, even I cannot see it. I’d have to still the rage, tame it, become something I am not. At the end of this poem I ask those in the boat to throw me a life line!

    I think no one will be able to save themselves–it’s all or none.

    Like

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