Sunday, October 26, 2008

'Do not feed the pigeons'

‘Do not feed the pigeons’, it said, in six different languages,
‘They cause nuisance and damage to the square.’
Of course they forgot to write it in the language of the pigeons
because they were too scared and wanted their guile to go unnoticed.
It was all like a bad Cold War film.
The caretakers of Trafalgar (having long forgotten
their friendship with the winged) knew that
those who do not fly speak in six given tongues
and will promptly learn a seventh to read more signs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It was that weather when the skies fall down on you

It was that weather when the skies fall down on you.
When the clouds seem to pull towards you; they come
not with the promise of something good, not with the
promise of rain, but as if they want to come close, and
as if they wish to share a secret, without an intention
to make you sad but they also know that you will be saddened,
inevitably. Their colour is not black, as if before a storm,
not red, as if before sunset.
They do not ask you for awe
or friendliness but for surrender. They are the clouds
that will tell you that this is the moment to know, saddened
though you might be, this is the moment to know that steps
taken forward are not always better than steps which retreat.
That move as you might, no one direction will ever win over
the other. That if you wish to know, do not ask us, for we
are only clouds and we can only come laden with drama
and let you know nothing really by telling you that something
is at hand. What that might be is known by you alone and
that is why you called us here, today, near you. We were
floating in the skies and were trying to get heavier with
each drop forming; we were aiming to bring that which
makes people happy, we were aiming to continue
on our usual job as the providers of rain, we wanted
to give such moments to lovers, but you pulled us
near yourself today because you felt heavy and
we could not deny your force. We will look into
the matter of rain later. We have not come to tell really,
we have come to ask, not with promise, really,
but with curiosity. What is it today that makes you
the epicenter of all the clouds in the skies?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To jump over! - From Geetanjali Shree's 'Tirohit'

To jump over!
An act in which happiness just brims over.
If you jump, the body trembles here, the heart there.
You jump over the wall, the bush, the roof, threshold, boundary, moon….
And as you jump, a rising smile,
untamed for all you hold back, afraid but ruffling out,
gushes from under the veil.

tr. from from Geetanjali Shree Hindi novel Tirohit (2001, Dilli: Rajkamal Prakashan, pg. 90-91)

Friday, October 10, 2008

If you stand on a balcony

If you stand on a balcony
and raise your hand towards the sky,
you will end up mimicking
Michelangelo’s Adam,
and there will only be an old God
giving his hand in your hand
expecting, in return, a faith that Adam-like,
falters once but never again;
sheepishly buying you into a camaraderie.

Or if you lower your hand
and point it downwards,
you will only see a desperate Romeo
now looking unabashed
and ready to ascend, expecting
at the top of his climb, some poetry
a waiting Juliet and wine.
You would have to pretend
that your wait is over.

The hand is not meant
to access the divine
or to endlessly replay one romance;
not to go up or down at all.
You could offer it,
not with devotion
as if to the elevated, or with pity
as if to the downtrodden, to the one
standing face to face on another balcony,
lest he be searching for the sun.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just when you think

Just when you think
that all is quite done
and ready yourself
for what might be
perhaps only repetitions
of all that has gone before,
you would cross a street
(not with the patent hope
of discovering the timbre of life)
and for the first time,
at the age of twenty-three,
see an apple tree.