By: Srinivas S. Kumar
From love remembered, since unmade;
Of night that is the death of day;
Through sleep forgotten in a dream;
Past leaves which long again for trees;
To waves that stay in castles crashed;
And skies that see a caged wing;
Is absence sought, is absence sensed,
Is absence cried, and smiled, and sighed;
And is it cherished now; then cursed.
A lighthouse to the blackened shores
Of blinded minds, a hearth it is
(Without a log) for sodden hearts
On wintry wooden nights. To wit –
To them, the worldly wise – ‘tis made
Just as mirages are: its glass,
Which it is not, withstands the wrath
Of angry stones; and liquids quench,
Like watermarks, the thirst of thought,
But never of a throat. To grit –
The wise who see thro’ wor(l)ds – it ‘pears
As mirrors do: a looking glass
No less of time than space, that goads
At least a thought to traverse Time!
Between belief and being, though,
No love is lost; as Faith assumes
The vacuums free of sapient breaths;
And tu(r)ned is silence silently
To broadcast songs through coloured winds
About the Sky, as clouds shed tears,
About the boundaries writ on sand
(As seas sweep white and black with blue),
And Souls, as bodies dance and die.
Becomes a be’ng thus, absence does:
An is-not coaxed to be not-is;
‘Tis meaning forced into a word,
The still that’s heard between two storms,
The space between two thoughts; the time
Beneath a sleep; and just the place
Where love from hate departs and dies.
It is reborn with wishes made
Upon a falling star—that, if
It ears had, would grin with mouths
Bestowed by memories and whims…
As skies with yearning earth retreat,
Who heals our lungs? What fosters air?
Should fragrance speak of gifts, not receipts?
Why source a smell? What use its lair?
When rainbow-bounds remain unnamed,
Why read the faults twixt fuzzy lines?
Is darkness merely light untamed?
Is Light a fact? Don’t fashions shine?
While music gives our silence parts,
Why probe it deep for mood and Thought?
Are peaks all mind, and troughs just heart?
Do birds plan songs? Is nature taught?
A kiss is sweet; some tears strong,
But why reduce to tongues all taste?
Is blandness weak? Are spices wrong?
Which wine has rage? What anger’s chaste?
If flesh has fear and spirit’s free,
Is love just born when Loss expires?
What is the Truth? Who prunes the Tree?
Whence rhymes a verse? Where dies a fire?
Where vicious vibes, whence virtue’s wipes,
In works of art, alive by death?
Is purity about its pose?
Must hearts be more when winds are breaths?
The smell of a red rose
is a mixed metaphor:
it bleeds, like the flower
from the thorn; and binds
hearts to passing youth.
The smell of warm soup
is a cheerful simile:
it floats in dusky air
like a Christmas wish,
a food to weary spirits.
The smell of trickling sweat
is a mulish metonymy:
it sticks to a summer shirt
as will through woe sticks;
it is the salt of the land.
The smell of crackers burst
is a ling’ring oxymoron:
it suffocates young bodies
and old hearts, and is still
the toast of the middle ages.
The smell of an old book
is a transferred epithet:
its scent is the acute sense
of reading lungs; its romance
the dance of frayed things.
The smell of rain on earth
is Nature’s deep poem:
it is the fragrance of Fall
and of Spring, in a festival
of Union and of Gratitude.
To jog is to live—breathe in,
Then out; no care for the tombs
Of the gone, nor the homes to come.
To jog is to plant the next foot forth,
Not keeping a clock, not clutching miles;
And never halting for horizons.
The light dims into the chasms of night,
Or brightens from one into a day;
The landmarks pass in a humid blur,
A noon-cloud sans shadows, scudding by;
But the feet keep pounding the path –
Right soft, left hard, left deep, right deft –
And the knees accept a salty ache
For sweet safekeeping: “Pain is of space,
But suffering a trick of time,” they pant
In breathless syllables, and the lungs
Eager to give up (with breathy excuses)
Give in to the welding whispers of will…
Nothing gives, thus, save the patience
Preying, of a cagèd bird of Thought
That turns, with each passing foot-mile,
A willing, wingèd partner of Peace.
The creaking heels then walk to rest –
Wrested from rest by restive shoes
Seeking the dirt of roads unworn –
As breezes meet sweat with towels,
Tailored by a thousand soft evenings.
Srinivas S. Kumar is a theoretical phonologist and writes poetry and the odd essay during his free time.