Today is World Poetry Day. Writing poetry, for me (as I’m sure it is for many others), is cathartic. At times, however, it has just the opposite effect. I want to express an idea, but the idea refuses to get expressed! I break into a sweat, I palpitate, I gasp for breath as though I were being drowned in my own words . . . . . I hope you get the drift. This is precisely what Ink is all about.
©Priya Narayanan 2017, All rights reserved
I sit down to write a poem; the poem eludes me.
I grope in the shadows of my bag
to pull her out- a la a magician’s rabbit;
in vain. She has gnawed her way
through that fantastic realm, into reality.
I look for her in the nooks of a dilapidated house-
a house that engulfed its residents
to douse its own hunger.
I smell her in the clichés that pervade
before she slinks out the back door, a thief.
I seek her in the foliage of the pregnant trees-
trees in the throes of exploding
into a thousand more. A master at stealth,
I hear, but do not see her-
just as I hear, but do not see the koel.
The koel- his call, a disyllabic monotone
[you wouldn’t know when he sings a ballad
and when a dirge] -does he hide my poem
in his precious voice-box? Will he spit her out
when I strangle him? Or will he merely spit out his life?
The poem is sly. Leaving me
to engage with the koel, she glides
to the mountains. She would be safe there,
she deems, behind the mist that veils
a valley of flowers
a sparkling stream
a herd of antelopes
a silent prayer. She is wrong.
I gear up for the chase,
marking my way
with the unsung songs of the koel.
Trampling the flowers
muddying the stream
scattering the herd
shattering the prayer
I find her huddled behind a rock. I ensnare her,
drop her into a bottle of India Ink
and return home triumphant.
When I sit down to write the poem now,
all I can write is ink.
Have you ever had a similar feeling? What do you when you’re going down that abyss? How do you pull yourself back?