Then you make lists of those you loved (some true) and
those who loved you back and suddenly you understand
distance and space and curvature, the bigness of small
things and how to solve for x. Doesn’t a lifetime only
get you to the edge of what you don’t know and cannot
feel? God, for instance, is a mango tree, flowering in
season, interrupted by pests or a lot of sunshine or a
little rain. Four years ago, a couple made crazy adulterous
love under one tree and it refused to fruit all summer (this,
entirely, is true). There is a reason why broken parts
together weigh more than the whole (this too, is true,
because to know grief is to know heaviness, to know how
to trap air in your open fist). But all this, because I was
sitting under a mango tree, praying it would not rain (not
true for clouds are clouds), because so much comes apart
when you have to run, mid-thought, to where it all began.
We look for formless visions of ourselves in the
distance. But we haven’t found ourselves, not
even lost ourselves. Not yet. Between us is the
desert of halves. Is love more memorable when
it fails? More likely to last forever? I am told to
find bigger things to be grateful for: sperm,
geometry, the blue probability of a kingfisher. I
thank pain that fills fissures like wet cement so I can
wake up whole in the morning. It was happiness
that broke us when we weren’t looking. The
moon is what it is — a fiction of movement and
light. It is the sky that is unfaithful. Or the mind.
I make lists of small things, unclaimed things,
unproclaimed things: Quarter past two in the
afternoon, steamed rice, my name, uncertain,
sitting like a wingless crow upon a stranger’s lip.
In other February news, am delighted to be one of ten poets named by The Ekphrastic Review in their annual awards list. Very grateful to the editor, Lorette C. Luzajic. Do check out this brilliant platform if you read/write poetry in this genre. This award is for my poem, Corollary, which is on their site as well as in my book, Water to Water.
And if you haven’t read my first flash fiction piece yet, here’s the link. Let me know what you think. Better yet, share your flash fiction as well!
Tell me your god is a poet. And not because the
universe has been crafted as a perfect sonnet. Not
because love, like an ode scribbled on a brown
paper bag on a bus that’s always going away, cares
little about grammar or meter or form. Not because
random things happen like an unexpected close, a
strange foreign word that kisses your ear, a lyrical
movement that gently erodes your resolve. But
because every day what you see is different, even
the difference is like a poem that means something
else in the moonlight, a ghazal that reveals layer
after layer with each reading, until it twists and
mocks and starts undressing all over again. Who
else would conceive a constantly renewing truth
that drags your faith to the edge? Hail the poet.
Don’t we know ‘god’ is just a blessed pseudonym?
Recently the papers here carried news that the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has added a bunch of new “Indian -English” words including hartal (a shutdown or strike), dabba (box – mostly lunch box) and shaadi (wedding). Will they find their way into poems from all over the world? We’ll wait and see!! Meanwhile, this poem came about yesterday, and as it happens with almost all of my poems, I have no idea what triggered it. Am just happy words are breaking through the fog- slowly, reluctantly, randomly – but words, nevertheless. If you’ve just written a poem, do share the link – I’d love to read it.
Waiting for this year to end like waiting
for the second line of a poem — the first,
a recursive imperative that keeps looping
back to an undefinable beginning. The
days have to be rolled uphill, a Sisyphean
production in which the movement of time
is a measure of naked ineptitude. We wake
together at midnight, this is when the
gradient sharpens and darkness needs to be
pushed with two hands— sweaty, grimy hands
that have touched skin and broken promises—
with dawn the stone will slip again, past lips
and waists and lies and feet. All this in the
space of a day, in the space of an empty
second line, this year that should end like
a poem, but is always one damn word away.
A wall to the right of the empty bed, concrete
blocks and wood that feel the first desperation
of night. To the left a window where dawn’s
seduction begins. Does light pick a side first
or does darkness? As usual, evening is the
arbiter of arguments over illumination. It was
evening when you left. It is evening while I
wait. Evening that is neither light nor dark.
Evening that pronounces: the moon is neither
empty nor full, neither real nor imagined, the
moon both is and isn’t. Is such a moon not
borne? Is such a moon not a chant? Is the
moon first light or first dark? Why then can’t
you bear absence? When can’t you speak
of love? Are they not moon crust? Why then
can’t you forgive this infidel flicker of love?
To all you poets: Am going to be writing theme-based poetry every Tuesday starting 5th November. Do let me know if you’d like to share your poems (spoken or written), discuss and critique all things poetry. More details soon!
Your desire for love defies the fear that
bookends it. Finding and losing both
unfasten stars from the sky. Will you give up
this world for the one without expectations?
What thoughts came to you when you
sat cross-legged under that peepal tree?
Previous: Tao inspirations #12
You made up these rules. You set the bar for
longing too high. You wanted to be exalted
as a star, as a god. But I know love refused to
play your game. It fell into your arms and fit
its weight into the yearning in your heart. Didn’t
it teach you to fly with your feet on the ground?
Mohini on a swing: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #7
Follow series on Instagram: @tp_poetry
Count all the things that are eternal. Then
count all the things that are not. In which
list did you put the love you feel? The love
you received? In which list did you put
yourself? When creation made its lists,
which one do you think it placed you in?
Dreaming Shankuntala: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #6
Does love come to you as a kindness?
Does pain seek you in vengeance? Your
poems are your own failings. Think how
much more can be said by your silence. Do
you hear the remonstrations of the moon?
Isn’t she still the greatest of poets?
In Contemplation: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #4
The moon brings its fullness to fit
into the small of your eye. To blink
would be sacrilege. Would be to
count its failings. Is there a greater
love, a higher love? To seek love is
blasphemy. Your job is just to be.
Lady in the Moon Light: Raja Ravi Varma (1889)
Writing 6-line poems inspired by the Tao Te Ching. Also posting on instagram @tp_poetry
Previous: Tao inspirations #2