Were Time To Hold Us Prisoners
Why grudge the time you spend with me love?
In another birth we will be born even more
apart, we won’t know the shape of the other’s
face, the colour of the other’s skin, the words
for love in the other’s tongue, and what it will
mean to spend a night in each other’s arms.
Then, only this constant absence of a love we
knew very long ago, a love we can no longer
reach to touch, a love that will betray itself in
tears, a love that will make us weep on full
moon nights. Other loves may take place, take
space, even take away this unnamed pain that
skins our hearts, but only we will know, with the
sureness of old souls, why we long for that part
of us which went missing. Then, we cannot
make claims. I cannot turn up at your door and
ask for a kiss. I cannot even ask for a fight.
Love me now. The torments, of being torn apart, can haunt us another day.
– MEENA KANDASAMY
Meena Kandasamy is a novelist and poet with three collections of poetry to her credit: Touch, Ms Militancy and #ThisPoemWillProvokeYou.
I Will Meet You Again
(Translated from Amrita Pritam’s Punjabi poem
Main Tenu Phir Milangi)
Where? How? I do not know —
maybe as a bit in your imagination
I will come to your canvas
or like a cryptic line you draw,
silently, keep gazing
Or like the ray of the sun
I will mix in your colours,
and sitting in their arms, become
that which you draw.
I do not know how or where
but I will meet you
Maybe I will be a spring
and like water, fly to the wind —
those droplets of water, I will
rub on your body, and
like a coolness, I will
lie on your chest.
I don’t know much
but this I know,
in time, when I go,
all I have done will go
and when this body goes
but the threads of memories
are like the atoms in the universe,
I will cherry-pick those atoms,
weave those threads
and I will meet you again.
Akhil Katyal is a writer, teacher and translator based in New Delhi.
For Haneen my beautiful
Shape of all things
long-lost trail of bird
You are what only
the sky remembers
Taste of silver air
dawn, a knife stroke
You are first and last
light of day.
swollen with words
a stone, river-heavy
sweet, heady dampness
You are what only
the water remembers.
Janice Pariat is a poet and writer
Cadences Of Glass
I held you at a distance, love, to look
at myself again, arm’s length, to test
the air between us: was it prism or mirror?
Did you, passing through its clarity,
reach me in shards of every colour?
Or were you, framed in its waviness, real
but held back by the purity of glass?
To find, in distance, love again,
I held you to the music of a single note:
distance, disturbance, distillate,
whispers of passage and separation.
Here’s brittle acceptance of the truce
between need and dispute, surface and sight,
these cadences of glass
that break and keep you at my side.
Ranjit Hoskote is the author of Central Time, Vanishing Acts, and I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded.
Painful to lose, far
too easy to recover. Turn around,
and there once again, unblinking,
it waits. Inevitable, immanent,
that thing you would flee but seem stuck
with forever, almost.
Almost a lisp, less than a hare lip?
There are habits and there are habits.
Breathing is a habit I try to acquire.
You are the one I try to shed.
-Karthika Naïr *
From: Terre à Ciel, 2012
Poet and dance producer, Karthika Naïr’s books include The Honey Hunters and Until the Lions
Let Me Be Adjective
And so the verb is all
But I’m not ready for it yet
I tie knots
every now and then
to dam the flow
I am thing
I am thing
and to pretend
you are too
And when the knots come undone
as one day they must
let me modify
let me take wing
let me sing
I suppose I’m asking,
like the old bards did
to be your garland
not always tenderly floral
just a little contrary
the kind that isn’t always allowed
within walled gardens
But even as I meander,
let my trail
be the thread
that completes the circle
I long to make around you
Love, let me be adjective.
Arundhathi Subramaniam is the author of 10 books of poetry and prose, including the recent volume of poems, When God is a Traveller, which won the inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize and the International Piero Bigongiari Prize
* All poems, except Karthika Naïr’s, are previously unpublished.
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