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2 quarantine poems by Ayushi Aruna Agarwal

Photo by Cristina Gottardi

Renewal, Rebirth

I went somewhere today

And left my body at home

It was a lush green forest

Every leaf with life shone.

There was no scorching sun

No golden rays reached down

And yet wherever I looked

There was only light around.

I crossed the bridge to a waterfall

Into the Earth’s palms it settled down

First I trusted it with my anxieties, then my fears

Eventually, I let the whole of me drown.

I floated lightly in the waters

Unbound by the concept of time

Catching every breeze, every little ruffle

With my soul and not my eyes.

I swam there in joyous abandon

Feeling as though I was back in the womb

In a state between life and death

And there was none of me quite soon.

The trees all bent around me

Watching over as I slept

Waiting for a renewal, for a rebirth

As my form took its last breath.


Empty roads and empty hearts Lacking the chaos they are too used to Slowing down, slowing down Swimming now with unfamiliar conversations That may perhaps make the self more familiar, And is that a cause for restlessness--being with oneself? Are we so used to a race that leaves no time for peace That peace has become discomforting?

Slowing down, slowing down is cause for worry Because it seems obvious that it comes at the cost of growth What growth? For whom? And why? When we struggle to spend time with a mirror. What a gift, to be able to withstand solitude What a blessing, to be able to go about the affairs of the heart and mind-- thread by thread, the way we go about the affairs of the society that we live in, Wafting through concerns that matter only superficially.

If I can't go out, why don't I go inwards?

I don't need to put on my best clothes today

I don't have to plaster on a smile

When it's only me here

And I finally have the chance to know,

It was only me, all along.

Ayushi is a lawyer, academic, and writer from India. She first shared her poetry at a spoken word competition at the University of Oxford and was voted as the winner. Most recently, her poem on the plight of migrant workers in India during the pandemic was published by the Centre on Migration and Mobility Studies. Ayushi has also written for some of India's most widely read news publications including The Hindu and The Wire. She has adopted the middle name 'Aruna' after her late maternal grandmother, who she never got the chance to meet, but who had her own creative ways. Check out her blog here.


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