Silver and Old Rose

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Sunday brought a silver-dark bowl
Lustrous with the shadowing
Of the hundreds of Sundays that
Bore it, cities and homes and hands
That held it. Strings of beads, bright
Stones, little guest towelettes –
Every room and table it graced has
Traced its story in muted light
The shine of dark silver undulled.
This Sunday I took out the plant it harboured
And gently rubbed the years away.
The scrub held my greyish rue, even
The towel clutched stains of regret
I repotted the plant and put in dried roses
Instead. This is perhaps the work of Sundays
Transmuting shadows into roses
The silver ready for the ink of future memories
Holding the old ones in red.

For Girish Karnad: A Whitsun Song From the Road

Tell me why the road needs a song
It isn’t a winding river shining
In the sun. Tell me why it brings 
Hidden meanings to the pen, unbidden
Yearnings that flock to the fore and when
The road turns, the wanderer in you
Learns how much you long for beauty
Without the thorns. Tell me why,
Now that Karnad is dead, the road
Might meander away from where
He led. Tell me stories mile-stoned
By the rocks you hurl into
The way ahead. Now that Gibran
Is gone from our memories and our
Libraries change their histories, tell me
Who will collect, catalogue, call
Our songs of those blocks where we
Stumble and fall. Tell me why we sing
Our heartbreak when the roads we take
Are the driven-paved paths we make.

Brimketill, Reykjanes

Why do they let it go, the sea
Back to its roil and tumble
The clefts, the nooks, the craggy 
Holes can’t seem to hold on to
The rushing blue and white the
Blackness of the rocks darker
As they let it slip through
Their fingers, tears down the faces
Of cliffs. Why do they not keep
The frantic waters sheltered in
Steep hollows, shallows with no
Traces of the deep, silent
Holding its grief in sleep. Why would
The ocean crash into stony
Arms if its heart was not bent
On seeking its keep.

Rocks Seen From the Edges of Cliffs

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Last night I dreamt my body was in revolt again
That I had never learnt to be afraid of spiders
And they were attacking me again. That the fear
Of hissing noises and hanging from cliffs
Had never rewired my brain and now I was
Falling, reaching for slithering vines with
Venom in their teeth. And I think how billions
Of deaths have not taught us what to do
With grief. So many, I had not thought death
Had not taught us so many truths and ways to
Go on living. No phobias, no thicker skins,
No recoil from the hiss and bite of grief. How has
Evolution passed us by, I think. Maybe, as usual,
I have the wrong end of this writhing mess. Maybe
It is grief that keeps us human in the face
Of so much ugliness.

Homeward Bound

I saw lightning fly from
Cloud to cloud etching arrows
In the sky. I saw the edge
Of dawn sketching thunder
Silent and black. I saw the moon
Stand guard high above; an act
Of faith. In truth, our descent
Traced its arc, a crescent of
Returning. Let lightning
Follow my flight, I think, let
Each arrow be a burning. Let
The glow of day be born in pain
Each shade a stroke of learning.
Let courage be an act of faith
And rain, the thunder’s yearning.

Remembrance

Is sometimes the rushing
Of a green river, carving
Stone pillars in the crumbling canyons
Of my Heart. Driven apart.
The riven highlands offer the years
A pebble at a time. A rock here
And there standing when
All about broke into dust eons
Ago. Today is a bridge under
Which the rushing waters sound
The deep, a thing to stand on
When all else seems tumbling
Past. To not have to leap. This
Bridge will not be
The last.

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