2 poems by Vasvi Kejriwal


Art by Veikko Vionoja

These two poems have been prompted by the same opening lines. Although the opening lines are the same, the poems are completely different. 


Prisoner


Outside, clouds have smashed head on into the earth as fast as corona. Inside, I have slipped on a zipless dress as fast as corona.

The world is dying slowly here at home

where everyone bears the burden of adjustment. It is the outside we do not worry about.

A prisoner’s horizon coats my eyes. The few lone planes are blemishes on a sky that does not shed a pellucid blue

for humans anymore.

It does not blaze for us to see it naked from every angle.

But we see it stretch and sough for itself. The air has cleared. The fortissimo howls of crows from my bed uncaged ring like a death knell. Dolphins at Marine Drive divulge secrets.

The shimul (1) blooms, a brilliant fuck you red.

The world examines us through the tempered glass of our windows. We dwell in the thin, measly cracks between light and light.

I close my eyes.

The darkness that lets me escape the dark carries a light of its own which it offers to the deep corners of my mind.

I see a ruddy train hot like Guajillo chilli

burning straight through pastel prairies.

Brown stalks of forest still dwindle away into clouds. A couple of elephants amble and grub about crumple some doors

corn and cane. The blithe swish of pearl-grey muzzles easy unlike this slate-grey building block.

They are no longer tamed in their soberness.

The fragility of wild things presents itself

so kindly in my darkness.


Notes:

1. Red silk-cotton tree (Bombax Ceiba) that blooms in spring (March-April)



The Elephants in Yunnan


Outside, clouds have smashed

head on into the earth, as fast as corona.

Inside, I have slipped on a zipless dress

as fast as corona.

The world is dying slowly here-

at home, where everyone bears the burden

of adjustment. It is the outside

we do not worry about.


On days like these, when

we are made to remember

we are all going to dust-

when this remembrance hits

like a jolt of lightning,

I think of how deftly we shall forget.

Like we forget stricken trees,

saw them into chairs and grace them

with our bottoms-

and how did we teach ourselves this ease

of misplacing the truth, over and over?

Was it as simple as rolling and rolling

on cross-stitched sheets till grooves

of thread latched on, as skin?

For some, it might have been when they found

the sunflowers, first wilting in a book.

Then, in a museum. In a JPEG file.

Or when they spotted numbers in the news

rising and rising and rising, expectedly

like the sun.


As we slowly moulder away indoors,

wipe the calling bell, the knob and go

a little batty keeping away used coins in a box,

the earth allowedly shrugs off its inhibitions.

The air above Mumbai has cleared.

Dolphins at Marine Drive are divulging

their secrets. Canals in Venice have an opening,

after years, to luxuriate in a bath.

A couple of elephants reveal themselves.

The blithe swish of pearl-grey muzzles, easy

unlike this slate-grey building block. They

amble and grub about, crumple

windows and doors, corn and cane

in Yunnan-

they are no longer tamed in their soberness.


On days like these, I want to unlearn to forget.

I want to recall the crusty, white shell

of each milk tooth, ruptured innards of my jaw.

I want to make a word for when I combed

my dead grandmother’s hair. That time

we stopped visiting the river

after we got rained on, just once.

I will soak up all this loss.

Walk down its long, winding road-

hardened with red earth,

lined with brushwood.

Then sit with my sorrows

cradled in cupped hands, breed

my fledgling reasons to live.


I want to rest my palm

over my heart-

its thumping, homely weight

like a roof over my head.