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Poetry

I want to write about many things I have seen this year.

***

The first time I saw the river Ganges, placid, calm, cool, until she claimed a life, and my toe ring. Mud so soft, so caked, so easily spread over skin just a shade lighter, submerging, coming up for air, cool water, strong undercurrents, knowing, knowing, that one slip is enough to lose it all. (Or to gain it all)

The sight of a lake so big, it was a sea, or so they said. A lake-that-is-a-sea that glittered and seduced, where heat rose, and salt remained collected on the undersides, the undersides of the lake/sea-belly, the undersides of my eyes, the undersides; that one afternoon where I sat and wrote and watched the lake glitter and remembered with so much gratitude that life is here, present, for taking, for giving, for living (but oh how easily we forget all of this)

The sight of that man, the one who broke my heart because my foolish heart thought it could save him. The sight of that man, the one who I couldn’t remain with, because my not-so-foolish heart knew it couldn’t save him. The sight, both times, the joy, the homecoming, the sweetness, then, the inevitable, the goodbye, no see-you-laters this time.

The sight of the clouds rolling in, so softly, so slowly, as the drizzle, so fine, so gossamer fine, landed on tired skin, the moment so perfect in its quiet, in its arrival, in its grandeur that was without assumed fanfare, the sight, oh, the sight.

The sight of my mother, just arisen from the shores of death’s calling, the relief, the sight but the relief, the sight of my mother, drips attached, unconscious, arising again, from the distant shores of pain, the worry, the sight incomparable to the worry, the sight of my mother, one I take for granted on days where mundanity overwhelms, but, the sight.

The sight of these words forming on white, once, twice, but not, the first, the sight of words that were formed years ago, remembering, recognising, knowing, you are not alone, the sight of words on gadgets, on paper, on papyrus, on scripts, scriptures, the sight of words that sooth, the sight of words that satiate, the sight of words that fire, that anger, the sight of words, a friend, a reminder, but mostly, mostly, a return, a homecoming.

Of tattoos, memories, and a lifetime of stories. 

I saw the birds on my back woven on the pallu of my mother’s sari, and realised with startling clarity that I was trying to wind freedom around me , without realizing how stifling that could be.

I slip off my sari blouse and the air settles onto the wings of my birds; slowly, slowly, my back flexes into life.


There is something to be said about a woman whose shoulders can comfortably hold the weight of the world and her own freedom. Head held high, spine curving gently, dip of the hip, another tattoo, skin settled so gently over bones, tight muscle.

There is something to be said about this woman, who has birds on her back and blood in between her eyebrows. When she opens her mouth, something like love, escapes.

He watches the curve of her shoulder as her blouse slips down; the moonlight catches the slight shape of bone.

Sometimes, just sometimes, there is some good in having insomniac musings. 

***

That’s the thing about love. 

You never know when it is going to come into your life, sometimes, so softly that you have no idea that it has arrived, until it has settled into your skin, a light weight. You realise that your eyes are a little brighter, that your smile has started to reach your eyes again, that you are lost in thought about his eyes, his hands, the way he smiled at you that one (and only) night, his smell. You realise that you tremble when you say his name, because name is power, and a name that has so much meaning, so much importance in your life, becomes an echo in your mouth that doesn’t quite go away. You realise all these things, and you wonder when it happened, and you can never quite pinpoint the exact moment. 

It has happened. There is nothing else left to do but to live with it. Nurture it. Accept it. Let the love mould you, as you mould love. There’s no other way about it. It is a beautiful surrender, but nothing short of a surrender will allow for survival.

That’s the thing about love. It finds you when you least expect it. And by the time you realise what has happened, you’re caught. The best part is, you know there is no where else you’d rather be. 

A list of desires goes like this –

A boat-ride in a humid marsh, to see the stork that stands on one leg

Fries with two types of cheese sauce (cheddar, parmesan), with Himalayan rock salt, pepper, freshly ground

The first, ever edition of Dr Seuss, hand-illustrated

Dew-kissed hibiscus, emergent bloom, blood-red, stamen standing tall, and proud

Your voice, reading out a poem to me, as I smoke my first post-sex cigarette

The purr of Fat Cat under my stroking fingertips, running through my palm to settle somewhere in my chest

Star-strewn sky from a Himalayan evening

Hot, scalding masala chai and freshly made samosas with mango chutney by the road side

Riding pillion on her bike as she speeds through the streets at 2am in the morning, feeling the chill in my knees and skull

The soreness in between my legs after a night of hard, fast, slow, musical loving.

Red, red, red Ruby Woo 

A soak in the bath, satsuma candle burning, listening to La Vie En Rose with a glass of wine

Walking towards the sun on a Sunday morning

(What I’ve been trying to say is, life, life, life)

Homecoming, so, naturally, poetry.

***

There is no lie in the kiss of life, she says.

I laugh, my mouth stained with the blue of berries.

Today I discovered the word death hidden in the folds of my breast.

I patted it, laid it to rest, ran my fingers over the nub and learned to forget.

Tomorrow, life will come forward to kiss me again.

My lips are plump and waiting, ready to be
bruised.