At Tallinn’s Lennart Meri Airport, Estonian bookseller Rahva Raamat has a little nook where you can pick up a book to read as you wait for your flight, take a book with you that you can bring back later from your travels or leave a book for others to read. Browsing their shelves I found a signed copy of ‘In defence of the cherries’ – poems by Peter Sragher and Claus Ankersen. I’d never heard of either of them, but sometimes a book gives you that long look, insisting it has something inside – just for you. A faint tingle of anticipation for the known unknown. A biting of the lip. A narrowing of the eye. There is no resisting that invocation.
So two things happened.
One, I couldn’t just take the book, even with the honest intention of finding a way to send it back to Tallinn at some point. So I left a copy of ‘Water to Water’ on the shelf, hoping my poems would find their own readers and their own journey. After all, that’s how poetry should happen to you – accidentally, without warning, just filling the space between your hands with something so intensely personal that you wouldn’t have even dared to acknowledge you needed.
And then, as I do with poetry books, I settled down and opened a page at random. The poem was titled: Farmer Poem on ‘The Ethos of Place’ and poetic nomadicity*. My eyes followed the asterisk to the bottom of the page:
* This poem was written in India.
Now, this book is bilingual, published in Romania. I was in Tallinn, after a drive through the Baltics. The arc of poetry was bending towards my physical being in ways I still could not imagine.
So I read the poem, a rather long poem, that talks about “how nomads and poets always yearn/ for a belonging they can not embrace and rarely fathom/” I shivered. Yes. But the next page had more: “Did I tell you that/ one night in Bangalore, after a festival, all left to my own/ whorish worldly dances/ I took an auto to Koshy’s*, had vegetable curry, a paratha,/ fried fish and beer/ and among all the nomads and waiters dressed in white/ I faced my Karma Bhoomi:/ I am a wandering wordsmith/ as fleeing as the wind.” I didn’t need to follow the asterisk this time. I knew the place, the waiters’ uniform, the taste of that food, the trouble with wandering and words. And home. I have been there. Often. Coincidence is a probability. Strange is a constraint of knowledge. Koshy’s is an old restaurant in downtown Bangalore.
everything is connected
sometimes you are the dot, sometimes the space, sometimes the line
even your denial means something in another language