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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Songs for all lovers

Six poets share their verses on the many ways of belonging.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: February 14, 2016 2:30:09 pm
Picture used for representational purposes Picture used for representational purposes

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.

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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
at you.

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
everything 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
sharp snow-cold
dawn, a knife stroke
You are first and last
light of day.

Sullen sea
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.

Habits: Return

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
to pretend

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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