Thursday, February 25, 2016

Poems by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

To An Unborn Daughter 

If writing a poem could bring you

Into existence, I'd write one now,

Filling the stanzas with more

Skin and tissue than a body needs,

Filling the lines with speech.

I'd even give you your mother's

Close-bitten nails and light-brown eyes,

For I think she had them. I saw her

Only once, through a train window,

In a yellow field. She was wearing 

A pale-coloured dress. It was cold.

I think she wanted to say something.

[From: The Transfiguring Places]

On The Death Of A Sunday Painter

He smoked a cherry-wood pipe, knew all about cannas,

And deplored our lack of a genuine fast bowler.

My uncle called his wife Soft Hands.

Once in 1936 he sat in his Holland Hall drawing-room

Reading Ulysses when a student walked in.

Years later I read him an essay on D.H. Lawrence

And the Imagists; he listened,

Then spoke of Lord Clive, the travels of Charles M. Doughty,

"My dear young fellow . . . "

I followed the truck on my bicycle

And left early; his friends sat all afternoon

In the portico of a nearby house.

[From: Distance in Statute Miles]

Mirza Ghalib In Old Age 

His eyesight failed him,

But in his soldier's hands,

Still held like a sword,

Was the mirror of couplets.

By every post came

Friends' verses to correct,

But his rosary-chain

Was a string of debts.

[From: Both Sides of the Sky] (anthology ed. by Eunice de Souza)

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