Aranya’s poem: “More smiles per pack”

Friend, today is a sealed box. The instructions

are on the packaging. There is even a dotted line

telling you where to cut-

                                        You can do it alone,

but sometimes, even solitude wants witness.

The page of this morning has just been opened

by the sun peeping through vacant rooms

of sleep, where the knowledge of what is to come,

is yet to reach. Outside on the moringa tree,

unconcerned by the weather forecast

that has prophesied water to slake our thirst

for green, a kamlipoochi is eating a leaf.

                                         Its evolution into wing

unspools in a fury of bites. Light strings through

the branches, dims into sight, and for a moment

Vetaal laughs, as the dried drumsticks charred

with grandmother’s tales rattle in the wind.

The rain doesn’t bother the thousands clustered

where bark meets leaf, dressed in a  fungal haze,

white with life. Tiny eyes blinking in the wind

don’t care about who’s watching – their practised

haste is not by design but necessity. And so it is

that the priest must rush to the temple

and the madman to the pith of his visions.

At the end of the path when we meet in the forest

again, walk ahead of me so I might find

the clearing, where we do not need to remember

names, and night is a quiet person watching you

from the shadows. Remember to whisper softly

in my ear that flight is not voluntary. If I forget,

help me with the instructions the way green

hands tend to plants, with music

and tomorrow in their wild eyes.

Aranya is a poet currently based in Delhi, a place to which he does not belong. He is interested in the way communities of practice (and survival) form around the arts, and is particularly dismayed about the fact that poetry is not considered an ‘essential’ service.

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