The clay in a pot
is the movement of desire through silence.
The winged seed travels
to the hand that kneads a fist of breath.
As the ground dips under moisture
at the limb of the river
the seed sprouts into a pale sapling.
The sharp October sun
pierces through the squint in the eye
to the undergrowth of memory.
The pearl diver dark and slick with oil
like the sinuous serpent of an eclipse
when it swallows the moon,
drops into the stillness of unbecoming.
On quieter days
the train can be heard from the
the gong of the bell from the temple
travels to the after-life of the dead
when the machine is rested
certain gears function
for a while
no one can tell when the end comes
What is dear finds way to the brewing pot
odd leaves piled on the grass
the browned jasmines
rose petals still secreting the perfume
When you push open the door, angle the body
to the energy that inhabits a room
Do not coax the birds a minute longer
to stay in the tree
or a mollusk to lock the plasma in a shell
On an otherwise mundane afternoon, my son
calls to say
his friend’s father died
Why, only yesterday he told me of the
the friend’s lactose intolerance
among other things
My mind makes the adjustment to accommodate
the new information of the young man I have not met
the father I will never meet
I touch the space of existence –
the space inside the shell where existence is a plasma of nothingness
no one can tell when the end comes
Eyes cast down
I watch the pebble
honed to its simple tone
Watermarks of story blur
in waves of desires deferred
Thoughts never rise out of the lake
bees unwinged in the circle of a full life
Who can map the path of the breeze
fence the clouds shifting over the hill
Logos is a headless tree
waving into the starless night
Silence spelled like the absence
It is believed in the town that the sun directs its light into the well
staining pearly radiance at the curvature where she aims the spittle
He mapped the channel of the dribbling silver by holding her body
blue grey like the spent rivulet draining into the dry mouth of delta
A green snake taken in the mouth stirs under the tongue of moon
the cobra ascends from her groin fans out hood of desire in her breast
When pain colors like oleander she knows the blood flows in reverse
from the tip of the finger to the dying throat of the flower rasping for breath
The last time I saw him he was saluting the sun, his head a hive of memories
he did not know she was crouched over the fire as a last act of supplication
One hand on the slab of shoulder, the other cupped over her ear he called
into the empty house, primeval cry razed down the structures of language
The aromatic roots in a tangle,
tug deep through breasts to ochre
space between ribs. Is earth same as
soil? Time differentiates one from
other. Drum beats as sand decants
into crevices between molars to hairy
growths drawn tensile down jaw line
where Y of vocal cords silence at throat.
Time holds her like a hand at the throat
when brass pot goes into the mouth of a well.
Words hang to the rope, distended into sounds –
slurps and gurgles that surface through saliva
poured into a glass on the table. Clear water
decanted of desire, fire of longing. As the sun
slices her face in the shadows of warmed bricks
phlegm threads in the food she brings out
slowly, laboured like this poem- words chunking,
spasmodic, taking her breath away in the effort.
Silence cannot be shredded
by the noises of birds,
each picking through the forest
a life its own.
It’s an effort to sit on the bark,
draw signs in air,
watch vapour from river rise
in a breath.
Light in sharp slant slices water.
In between rocks
time drowns, day silences
in deliberate chants.
* Vana, in Indian languages, means forest.
Sun in the field throws no shadow
it consumes the earth in its energy
the day pulsates in stillness
the way dreams leave no noise
the centre of chamber is radiant
and atoms jostle in muted excitement.
Poem A Day
Inspired by the line ‘mind is bright, clear of sound’ from ‘The Cold Mountain’ by Hanshan.
The glass holds the sunlight
in that unchanging instant
when birds empty their chest of songs.
The shadow remains frozen
in that perfect minute
when not a slant of life breathes.
Loops of letters drown in the river
in that whirlpool
when algae of silence wraps my heart.
Poem A Day
I unfurl the leaf, serrated edges
are questions that fall limp like offerings.
Words sit in corners, their shadows lengthening
into startling ghosts. The tar at the bottom
sticky, holds my voice in total dumbness.
On the table I place pain polished with love;
allow me a prayer – sound flutters to the sky
leaving earth in a cave of quietness.
Then the orange noise of my soul sets flight
following an arc skewed from your axis.
Art by S H Raza