This poem was first published in Cafe Dissensus blog as part of two travel memories.
the stone steps lead to a clearing
on the slope of the mountain
but today I’m taking a trail into the unknown,
I listen to the shifting silences of the trees,
the leaves spiral down and dance
to an imaginary music along the pathway,
they cling to my worn sneakers,
my gaze follows two pairs of wings
chasing each other in the clear blue sky
as I shift the weight of the backpack
onto the other shoulder, I pause
between Cedars and Oaks
taking in the shifting rhythms of the landscape,
the path gently passes through the forest, then dips,
the sound of falling water only makes the silence apparent,
here, there is no such thing as time,
I inhale the hot fragrance of the day
and share my breath with you,
in your mind I may be only a memory,
in my mind, you are a pause between my thoughts
This poem is from a set of two travel memory poems first published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday.
A window opens through time
scented by Deodars and Pines,
as I lie on the wooden balcony of our cottage
my eyes linger on the shadow stencils
of the Dhauladhars rising beyond the valley,
the leaves murmur as the breeze tugs at them,
the sun, forgetting to set,
filters through the swaying branches
and meanders along forgotten paths,
a twist of smoke rises to meet the sky,
I breathe deeply, eyes closed,
inhale the aromas that we once shared,
the crackling warmth of wood stove,
the tang of our salt-laced bodies
with their steam rising into the stillness
like the echo of dreams haunting this house,
outside my window time advances slowly
(Photograph courtesy Jayshree Shukla. Posted with due permission)
Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets
that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,
and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,
garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings
and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,
lost words float across the treetops,
arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,
quietly they nestle in an empty nest
or whirl down onto the marbled floor
in an aerial dance—like dervishes,
caught in a mystical ecstasy, their souls
electrified by the rising crescendo of qawaals.
Possessed in a feverish frenzy of longing
and sensuousness, bodies dissolve
into each other and in turn into
the saint and the poet, love rises
as smoke at the end of the lit incense
and floats through the prayers
tied to the marble lattice
I sit in a corner, eyes closed – entranced,
the poet in me loses herself to the scents,
the sounds, the sights, the dust, the birds,
the trees, the sky, the marble, the songs,
and then dips herself in holy water
as green as the greenest emerald.
The sun seeks its path among
the silhouettes frozen in time.
I lean against the afternoon draped pillars
and feel my inner darkness melt
with their lengthening shadows,
the senescent walls soak up the pain
as I trace my fingers over them.
Across the courtyard, time, like a poem,
burns in the dua-e–roshni as the day
meets the loban perfumed night.
Two lovers completing each other
like two halves of a sphere.
It is in this cosmos
that the inexpressible exists,
visible to those eyes which can see.
(Based on one of my visits to the Dargah this is one of the poems in the Delhi Series. First published in Asian Signature Magazine.)
My shadow, dressed in handed down rags,
and smelling of hunger and weed,
melts in the margins, stains them
an invisible red, revealing itself only
in the warm skin of your fingertip.
Carelessly thrown over a chair,
the shirt is the first thing I noticed
as I enter my house,
your fragrance, playing with the night,
settles in the folds of my skin,
seared with grief my heart flutters,
I’m glad you left the shirt, not the key.
(Two more poems published in Peregrine Muse)
Reminiscing, I roam the paths with him,
my loss hangs heavy in the air,
the landscape as parched as my heart,
you a shadow, a ghost, a dream unfulfilled.
Sometimes I hear you… soft whispers
riffled by the warm summer breeze,
your smile lights a dew drop,
I catch your scent from the fragrant trees.
Aromas of food and sleep are in the air
the house is flushed with warmth.
in my loneliness I call your name,
feel your misty breath on my face.
Your face is reflected in the window
you call out, but I don’t hear…
my face is in the raindrops of your tears,
you live in me… it’s you I know
My body holds the shadows of your love,
you are no more, you left me all alone,
my body a graffiti of your fingerprints,
like those you left on everything you touched.
Time is just the blur of your shadow.
I won’t forget you, I won’t forget you…
or the soft tread of your feet
and your music echoing in my dreams.
Long years have passed since you left,
my sorrow failed to become songs of love,
the invisible remained invisible…
I miss you… I miss you… first love of my life.
(first published in learning and creativity magazine)
on the table at dawn
and a few parting words
pinned to a page
beautiful but dead
everything was beautiful
until familiarity and ego
cast their long shadows
across this winter morning
veiled in mist and rain
I mourn the love killed
and struggle to cope
with this ending
so ruthlessly imposed on me
and I wonder if he won
or if I lost.
( A new one 🙂 )
First published in Learning & Creativity magazine in August 2015.
Time stands still on the stone steps by the river;
a silhouette takes a dip and emerges from its waters,
hands folded in obeisance to the rising sun.
A moment of transition from mundane to divine.
A marigold garland drifts by with ash in a plastic bag.
With a conch’s cry, the temple city quivers to life,
a flower boy approaches and with him a frail form
in white, a prayer basket trembling in her hands.
Oblivious, she faces the river, chants mantras,
lights the flower lamp and sets it afloat.
A song comes as a boatman begins his day.
The sun rises from the saffron tinted waters,
lifting the veil from Shiva’s abode. The air thickens
with smoke from funeral pyres and cooking fires,
the skyline of soot-darkened temples their backdrop.
In the sacred city of Varanasi a union of opposites—
suffering and liberty, birth and death, sacred rituals
and the unfolding of daily life. I walk the ghats,
that are alive with rhythmic sounds of cleansing
as washer men thrash laundry against stone slabs.
A holy man—his body smeared with ash—
lifts his hands above his head in prayer,
another, with Shiva-like dreadlocks,
sits in deep meditation at the sunken temple.
The air echoes with the clamour of temple bells.
Pigeons take flight. I sit beneath a canopy
and watch the river of life gasp for breath
at the confluence of the city of light and death.