Sunday, 17 November 2013

Witness





The small sweep of lives, the orbit
of gravel on string, moons as white
as unused pillows, the infinite
squeezed into tiny and tight,

 

as tense as a crude catapult 
in the hands of giddy adolescents.
A supreme nothingness result
from minute spasms of moments.

 

What else can I have witnessed?
Whole galaxies stripped bare,
an entire eternity undressed
a white hot radioactive flare;

 

and then all has gone ominous
the silence swells with its own ring
that can’t be shared between us
with the same degree of meaning -

 

like peanuts from a packet
while watching a furtive movie
scenes and seats heavily padded
with a raucous ambiguity -

 

and so I’ve have come back to it,
back to the small sweep and sphere,
shrunk, flung back into these orbits
of my lives and my gravel here.

 

No-one ever speaks anything
a languid angst burns up space
and keeps the moon from yellowing
nudges the status quo into place

 

keeps the gravel turning around
fingers of centrifugal force
and skims meanings off sounds
and ruffles pages to find their source;

 

but the meanings can’t be made
by turns of page, by the swivel
of stone and clock, empty decayed
stars in their tracks. The lights shrivel,

 

while you witness the same events
and even call them similar names
and yet the meanings fall different,
haphazard, and nothing’s the same.

 

 

Beyond the one-dimensional
silence and its disconnects
there’s no orbit that threads it equal
smoothes the jerking, turns defects

 

into a light-hearted anecdote
shared on cocktail-cold evenings
“this I’ve written, just a small note
on catapults and sundry things,”

 

with a deprecatory shrug.
The hesitation and the fear;
the difference, much-abused drug,
mutes the impulse, we quietly steer

 

the moment away and each
smile a little uncertainly
understanding sways out of reach
neither of us can quite break free

 

to enable a common template
for catastrophes we witness.
We spin at our co-ordinates
once or twice we snatch a guess

 

look through the other’s lens
feel the other’s pebble and string
there is a tiny flash of sense
and then we are back to nothing.

 

The night trickles a little colder
now the moon’s a wrinkled pillow
hard as rock against shoulders
there’s nothing to be said, we know

 

the limits to word definitions
each perspective sharp, fine tuned
to what’s been seen, done, and undone
but in the end, mired and marooned

 

within our own discrete islands
of silent helplessness, tongue-tied;
turn away and understand
perspectives rarely coincide.

 

And that too is fine, my friend
that we could not articulate
all that we’ve seen, all that’s happened
that we can only stand and wait

 

watch and serve just one purpose
without any gods to oversee
that we each stood up to witness
the lexicons of plurality.




 

4 comments:

  1. Woah, Nilanjana, powerful I loved the imagery of the pillow--at first...moons as white
    as unused pillows
    Then later, now the moon’s a wrinkled pillow...
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think your message is contained in this stanza--
    within our own discrete islands
    of silent helplessness, tongue-tied;
    turn away and understand
    perspectives rarely coincide.

    So many similar things we witness yet we all see things differently.

    Thank you for sharing, Nilanjana. If you make it clear it is a WEP post in your title, it will save confusion, otherwise people in a hurry won't think this is your entry, I think.

    As always, thank you for sharing with us your wonderful poetry.

    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denise, and thanks for reading this one - you've zeroed in on the message exactly.
      The WEP post is the next one, oddly it struck me that the poem could well have been the entry for sharing too, after I read your message :)

      Delete

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