Umbrellas

We all lose our umbrellas

at least once in our lives.

And then we get drenched.

Such misplaced accidents make poetry.

 

After many a season,

quite unexpectedly, she writes to him:

it's raining outside in sheets;

the monsoon is making up for lost time.

Bombay is happy.

By her side on the floor

are two black umbrellas,

in their full rotundity,

spread out to dry.

They leave little puddles on the floor,

which visitors must side step

before they can reach her.

She thinks about the season of rains

in her childhood in Kerala,

of pebbled sand and stones

speckled orange or pink,

the moss on the walls,

and the strange man in ochre,

walking down the by-lane,

bearded and grim faced.

There are three naughty girls

in that scene.  All of them

shriek in mock terror:

fleeing, she lets go of her umbrella.

Later, home and dry, they laugh

over their harmless skit,

but she's worried about how

to fabricate a dramatic lie

to cover up the loss.

 

That every poem is an invention

is well-known, but that it suspends us

in a state of non-being makes it comical.

The success of a poem is in being able

to lose grip and hang safely in air,

like those trapeze artists hooked on wires....

 

Her letter stirs unknown longings in him,

but, like her, he knows too much.

When two wayfarers seek shelter under one

umbrella, both of them get wet;

instead, it's better if one remains dry,

while the other walks bravely in the rain.

There's nothing funny about what we lose,

yet we smile.

 

The distance between us

remains inviolable,

but somewhere in the chasms,

there hangs this poem.

 


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape