5 poems from Karuna Ezara Parikh’s Where Stories Gather



A collection full of tenderness, hope and a search for beauty, Where Stories Gather is Karuna Ezara Parikh’s first book of poems where the writer-poet delves into a more personal realm, asking and answering questions of identity, memory, womanhood, and the heart.


A curation of her most popular work alongside new material, this collection marks her as a poet of the fragile human condition, with poetry that is urgent and lyrical, intimate and fiery, empathetic and hopeful. This collection is poetry at its lyrical and political best and a must read for our times when reading can be cathartic and healing and at the same time, informing and shaping our opinions, while helping us make sense of the fractured reality we find ourselves in.


We've selected five of our favorite poems from the collection:



Waiting


Gentle

is just fierce

resting.


 

Bone Work


Do the bone work.

Ask yourself –

What am I feeling?

Will this break me or is that creak

just the sound of my skeleton

stretching to make room

for my soul’s swelling?


 

In the Days of Separate Lives


And so I learnt how to live without your laughter,

because it meant I could live without always being late.

I learnt to put on a nice dress and comb my hair

even if I was alone,

because if a tree falls in the forest

and there is no one there to hear it

a tree has still fallen in the forest.

I learnt to grow so large I could fill a bed

which earlier you and I and all our dogs

and every one of our sadnesses never could.

I learnt that one single person rising all alone

can grow to fill what two people falling out of love

together could never.

We used to lie on opposite ends

three feet of bedsheet

an impossible ice desert to cross.

We used to lie entwined like ghosts.

I have now learnt the solitude

of lying in my own arms.

I have learnt to be firm,

to repaint the edges of my body

that had disappeared like vapour in search of stars.

Today I am so vast I turn whole rooms into my own.

Sometimes at night I wake scared and small.

I take a sip of cold water and expand again.

I am a giant and I am filled with nothing but my own love.


 

Some days I break down

But some days, I break even.

(Balancing my books.)

 

Tomorrow


We were not made for this world

you with your love of the stars,

me with my compassion

for the changing moods of clouds.

We should move to a cottage on a hill somewhere,

grow tomatoes, sow stories, watch two-toned dahlias

come up around us for air.

We should sleep nights by a river,

or even the sea,

argue over whether water sounds more like bells or cymbals.

I want to worry over your insect bites,

adopt stray mountain dogs,

sassy ginger seaside cats,

and cultivate comical chickens

we later won’t have the heart to eat.

We weren’t made for this,

these tall cities of mainly smoke.

We were made for orange trees and summer breeze

lives so free

we forget the weary weight of our feet

and give our bodies over

to life’s extraordinary stream.

 

Karuna Ezara Parikh is a poet and writer, former television anchor and model known widely for her activism. She has written for Vogue, The Wire, Tehelka, and Lonely Planet amongst others. She is the co-founder of the sustainable company, The Burlap People, and is based out of Kolkata. Her novel The Heart Asks Pleasure First was published in 2020.


 

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