River of grass

now that I think of it: it was that night,
stranded in the rain, watching a wet
car drive by, slowly, painfully, drifting in
a river of blurry headlights, squelching
through a pothole, a game of hopscotch,
landing all four wheels on clear asphalt,
a story through that car window, the drama
of sky and reflections and black sheets of
unrelenting rain — you see me trying to hail
a cab, a rickshaw, a stranger, anything that
will stop, you see my outstretched arm, bare,
gathering raindrops, gathering cold,
everything heightened, everything base,
you see things differently when you know
you won’t see them again,

I wonder if it is warm inside the car, what
song is playing on the radio, does it smell
of emptiness, of waiting, are you curious,
wanting to pull over, asking if it is cold, is
there someone to meet, is there somewhere
to be, does it smell of eagerness, of waiting,
the truck in front floats away, behind you four
vehicles honk, it rains harder, tail lights flash,
the car looked black, wanting to blend in,
afraid to break the line, is there somewhere
to be — now that I think of it: in the middle of
the afternoon, sunlight and shadows cavorting
in the grass, dry grass, warm grass, a river of
grass, I think, you see things differently when
you see them in the rain,

Dirge on the fifth morning

there is no dry in incessant rain
on the fourth night the deluge fills your stomach
skin dissolves, drowning the last barrier,
you are the edgeless lake, you are shadowless rain,
you are the mother that seeded the cloud,
the daughter orphaned to the thirst of the sea,
you are a single drop shattering in grief,
you are the dark cosmic wave on which
sails the bright lie of creation

you hover, neither on land nor in the sky —
see, sorrow has trajectory, weight,
immeasurable pain can be measured by the spoonful,
but this stillness, this suspension,
this, they tell me, is the culmination of human feeling,
to feel nothing, except breath,
or its lack,
this, they say, is mindfulness, touching time
on the inside, touching the universe
on the outside,
the moment soaked,
its belly distended,
its water fecund, birthing distortions

the monsoons overlap
the soil gags
the rocks grind against fallen sky
precipitation is a stranger’s joy
the perversion of air tells a story
of the myth of sunshine
the wet, a raging minotaur,
the light, a prince trapped in a labyrinth,
inside a moment
inside a cloud
inside a lake
weightless,
skinless,
the rain, a sinner,
a penance, a discordant lover

************

It has been raining a lot, the south-west monsoon followed by the north-east monsoon with hardly a break. But grey clouds teach you to appreciate even mellow, liquid sunshine. Or the rain brings poetry of the sort that a summer’s day can only dream of. There are silver linings, if you look long enough…or if you stop looking! Do you see more rain, more aggressive rain in your region – because of climate change?

It rained again today…

As if life was found,            accidentally, when
we took a wrong turn from             death: a
shell lying on a shore               that

it shouldn’t, that

it couldn’t,

yet, within it, the            roar of the entire
ocean. Today, I held life up          to my ear, it’s
voice was wet like rain, it       wondered

if I should.

If I could.

The edge of what you don’t know and cannot feel

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.

Poetry Tuesday #4 – Blue

And for the last Poetry Tuesday offering this November, the prompt is ‘Blue’ – sky, sea, mood, music, sapphires, ink – blue is where poems begin! Blue was also the soul of my first poetry collection ‘Water to Water

Here’s my poem for the prompt today. Share yours using the Mister Linky widget below. Thanks to all those who’ve been part of this series with their thoughts and poems. Maybe we’ll do another one sometime soon!

 

 

On the other side of rain

The rain comes first and then the darkness,
then the fear, then the silence – louder than
the rain on glass and tile, darker than the
night, afraid of itself, holding me like a long
lost lover. If you were here, I would tell you
there are sixteen types of quiet. In fifteen of
them, I talk to you without saying a word. A
yellow chrysanthemum describing itself to
a moonless sky. Tonight, you speak and I
point to my ear and shake my hand, you are
too far away – on the other side of rain, at the
beginning of a protracted monsoon. Silence
breathes hard, holding my face in its hands.
Isn’t conversation easier when someone is
actually talking? The blue sky explaining to
the blue lake why they are both colourless.

Wet Season For Writing

Emotion congeals into grey clouds that hide the
light. The poem feels ink falling like warm rain.

As if there is a wet season for writing. You used
to say only Illusions are spun from light- love

and gods and dawn and the paleness around
my finger where your ring used to be. You used

to say darkness is the primordial truth. The poem
swallows its vowels. There are things that should

not be said. After the rain, there must still be sky.
Alone wasn’t a thing, till we made it up. Till a

storm forced it into the poem. Till hyphens gave
up the things they held together. The poem lies

beside me and touches the wound of absence.
We learn to feed our solitude with consonants.

But Skin Is Different

There are indentations in the blue
porcelain like impressions on soft
wax where it was held softly, when

the tea was warm, for a while, and it
would not stop raining. We leave marks
on things that least expect it, on a passing

wing, on yellow afternoons, on the serrated
silhouette of leaves against a midnight
moon, on time standing on one leg, back

against the far wall, waiting. Truth is a
collage of careless fingerprints, the rain can
draw your picture from the way your hand

caressed the clouds, but skin is different,
naked skin can be cleansed, memory carries
the deliberate guilt of sieved pain. This tea is

cold, a level certainty in an imperfect cup, it
is only mid-June, the sun flattens like an
unleavened candle, and it will not stop raining.

September First

It is that crease in the crumpled paper of
time folded inside the envelope of listless

improbability, everything before it unreal, thereafter
a breathless race to the end of the year

through festive lamps and fireworks and the
sensuous rustle of woven silk, everyday reminders

that we are still packing rectangular burfis in oval
cardboard boxes. Now damp memories begin to

leech into skies freshly wiped of the grey monsoon,
remembrances tied up like fat goats in impromptu

markets, primed for sacrifice, of Dussheras when
truth was pink and green and yellow and the

clouds were the colour of spilt burgundy and words
were heavy with sighs, of that Diwali when doors

slammed louder than crackers the kids set off
inside old Bournvita tins and neighbours peered

through the window with eyes lit up like burning
flowerpots. Everything is reset on September first,

the sun is hanging out to dry on the line, her mellow-
mellow light with its sound of breaking boundaries and

shattering smiles paints the air with a strange
sanctity as if every molecule of the universe is visible and

quivering and even you and I know that without the
rain, we can no longer pretend to be waiting.

Waiting for Sunshine

it is our stubborn reluctance
to stir the heavy air
who, like an aging lover,
thinks he can still tell
hidden yearning from unspoken boundaries,
a book lies unread on my lap
someone’s impassioned words
that conjure a false arrhythmia
begging for motion, for emotion
as if waving at the sky
will make it forfeit a single monsoon cloud;

it is the false propaganda of the rain
masking the odour of parched throats
with a fleeting waft of petrichor
that precludes dissent,
its clammy fingers proclaiming life
as if eternity rides down
on pregnant clouds
to backfill the emptiness;

but we have learnt to wait
until the sun deigns to love us again
until shadows that slunk away
return to the hollows of our patient curves,
we have soft umbrellas of inertia
to deafen the mystic drumming of the rain
the grey shroud will drop
from his bent shoulders
the revelation
is only a few yards
of nothingness away.

June Skies

the tea is smelling of ginger
and cardamom, sickly sweet,
the kind she likes in the morning,
that whispers in her ear
tells her to write about disappearing horizons
about absent birds, puddles stolen from cloistered skies,
the way the summer births this deluge
and slips away, leaving the monsoon
screaming in her hands,

an unlikely mother
bent like a cold question in a still damp watercolour,
she writes of cold toes and wrinkled skin
of a song about a long ago downpour
that sounds like a lullaby,
of smudged eyes and leaching tears,
of a chipped cup from which
the grey wind stops to drink,
four a.m. The darkness shivers,
it is raining again.

she writes of a sun that was,
of the way the light used to be.