Sunday, 23 July 2017

Street Urchin

Happiness comes in narrow corridors
where no furniture achieves the right fit
and wall art doesn’t improve the décor -
nothing manages to lift the minute.
It arrives unbidden - a street urchin
who you nearly shoo away before
you understand what the ragamuffin
carries in his pocket that could be yours.

Even the child doesn’t know the value
of the stone he’s picked up from the trash heap,
he holds it out in exchange for a meal
and its gleam’s a thousand dancing lives deep
in its heart slowly pirouetting and you
forget narrow corridors, walls and chenille.

Since I'm travelling, my posts through July and August are scheduled, but I will check in whenever I can and respond. Meanwhile, you have the happiest summer/season!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Vacancies 2017

The monsoon and I arrive, every year
about the same time, and the sky’s shampooed
with sudsy clouds, the asphalt’s rinsed in mud,       
all the way through the city up to here
awash with reflections, the tree leaves clear
of past dust, debris. But change’s accrued
in infinitesimal moves of blood;
in tiny degrees mapping atmosphere.

A house has fallen vacant on a street -
overgrown, greedy vines snap at its heels.
A locked cupboard somewhere, an empty chair,
a pair of old, worn slippers minus the feet.
The city commute’s the same, the same rain wheels
across the road, just that you aren’t there.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Night sky

This too is a kind of happy -
just briefly preoccupied -
that the night sky is forever
though one pole star has died.

This too is a kind of happy
that others close ranks on the map
even if it’s momentary.
Not one night permits a gap.

This too is a kind of happy -
that the sun’ll rise tomorrow.
That day skies include all stars,
happiness includes all sorrow.

Last month I lost a close and crucial member of my extended family. This is a thanksgiving for his life and a memorial. Always in the midst of our hearts and our lives - all elders.

Since I'm travelling, my posts through July and August are scheduled, but I will check in whenever I can and respond. Meanwhile, have the happiest summer/season!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Sea, the Mountain, and the Old School Route

A couple weeks back I did some collaborative art here – used a friend’s artwork as prompts to my poetry, and the results were amazingly pleasant for both sides.  Read more about that effort here. So today I am back with some more – two of Mira’s delicate watercolours of Mauritian seascapes. 

The first is of Blue Bay – a well-known picnic spot and a popular beach destination.  And the other is of a mountain called Le Morne. Legend has it that slaves under the French colonial rule escaped here (hence the French appellation) - runways, maroons sheltered in its caves, and hid from their masters. Some also dived from the cliffs high above into the sea when they learnt they had been located, and killed themselves to avoid capture. This mountain has been chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because of these tragedies. This particular location is also mentioned in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy as the site of Deeti's cave shrine, which is where I first came across it.

Both of these watercolours took me back in time and place, the Blue Bay to the Blue Beach in the North Coast of Egypt, and the mountain to a much smaller, much less important inselberg parked on the horizons of my school route in Northern Nigeria many years ago. Everything reminds me of something else, deja vu overload. Or maybe I'm just getting old :)  Anyways, here they are - Mira's fingers with the paintbrush, and mine at the keypad -

The Blue Bay, Mauritius by Mira Boolell Khushiram

Wherever I go I can see your face -
in mountains, in cloud forms, in cloudless skies,
in the colours of a sailboat, in the shape
of a triangular sail - the rise

and fall of its movements mirrors my own.
I can still hear your voice in the winds,
suede-soft against the harshness of stone,
calling down years into the labyrinths

of time and memories and joyful verse.
I can still feel your hand right next to mine
a slight tremor, a pulse saying more than words,
your smile transformed into this new shoreline

as if I’d never left, as if you and me
were together still, sailing that same jade sea.

Le Morne by Mira Boolell Khushiram

Everything calls to me, as though it’s a sign
to turn and face the way I came again -
a certain mountain brings back a lost terrain
an inselberg that wore the same outline

in thick sunlight poured on the horizon
beyond the vanishing point, where the road
hid behind distant trees, silken winds rode
acacias, deep grass, Fulani herdsmen.

Too many miles have lapsed, too many autumns
fallen in heaps of leaves. And when I look
closely it’s just something else I mistook -
different mountains, different outcomes.

The track itself turns to mud as I glance
behind, there’s no option but to advance.

I have loved working with Mira's art, so proud to have her paintings lift up my 'walls' to an altogether different level here! Thank you, Mira! Hope the readers will enjoy the colours and words as much as we both have.

Since I'm travelling, my posts through July and August are scheduled, but I will check in whenever I can and respond. Meanwhile, have the happiest summer/season!