The Reply

Princess, I write to you of rain-soaked mornings,

with showers of bright pink bougainvillea flowers

strewn on the damp front yard and of bird calls

of every kind, mornings and evenings, but one

especially sweet and insistent, repeating itself

in heart-wrenching cycles of melody and pain—

I mean of course the call of the kokila, the

dark, passionate, red-throated bird that revels

in monsoon afternoons and mango blossoms.  O love,

that I could hold you in my arms so tightly

as to draw that subtle, throbbing, sacred spark

that I see pulsating so clearly--if I could only

extract that secret strength, that certain energy

which you radiate with so much careless ease,

I'm sure I would grow immortal all at once,

and return your power to you magnified manifold.

But, like the man in an opium trance, who awakes

to find a world too ugly, harsh, and bright,

I too awake by myself in strange room far away

from you or from home, in an empty bed, deserted,

except by the sharp ache of absence.  Yet I must

thank you for your parting gifts; you left me

distracted but richer far.  You gave me, in your stead

a God made holy by your daily prayers.  He stands

on the mantelpiece, staring down at me, large-eyed,

flute at his lips, triple bent, in classic pose.

As I bow to this laminated image of grace,

I find my thoughts winging back to you, like

homing birds.  So thank you, Princess, for your

disarming combination of largesse and restraint,

a nostrum that opened the sluices of my dormant

imagination, and recharged the long-empty wells

of my dried up talent.  Yes, I am that wretch

who must always be in love, moistened by longing,

before I make a mark or do anything worthwhile.

Some people drink, some take drugs, others travel,

read or fornicate--to each his or her aphrodisiac--

mine is love.  So tolerate this glare of affection,

remembering always that I seek not just you butg

the self beyond name or form, of which you are

both symbol and part.  So even before I receive

your first letter to me, I begin this poem to you

as a token, if not of commitment, at least of intent:

I love you as truly as an artist his inspiration,

or, perhaps, far, far more, as soul loves body,

or as God loves this world, the self of his self.

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape