Friday, January 29, 2010

You Learn
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn...
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth...

And you learn and learn...

With every good-bye you learn.

~Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, January 15, 2010

This is what the things can teach us:
To fall
Patiently to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that
Before he can fly.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book Of Hours: Love Poems To God

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense."


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

|| Who in the rainbow can draw the line
where the violet tint ends and the
orange tint begins? Distinctly we see
the difference of the colours,
but where exactly does the one
first blendingly enter into the other?
So it is with sanity and insanity. ||

- Herman Melville

Monday, January 11, 2010


Father, when he passed on,
left dust
on a table of papers,
left debts and daughters,
a bedwetting grandson
named by the toss
of a coin after him,

a house that leaned
slowly through our growing
years on a bent coconut
tree in the yard.
Being the burning type,
he burned properly
at the cremation

as before, easily
and at both ends,
left his eye coins
in the ashes that didn’t
look one bit different,
several spinal discs, rough,
some burned to coal, for sons

to pick gingerly
and throw as the priest
said, facing east
where three rivers met
near the railway station;
no longstanding headstone
with his full name and two dates

to hold in their parentheses
everything he didn’t quite
manage to do himself,
like his caesarian birth
in a brahmin ghetto
and his death by heart-
failure in the fruit market.

But someone told me
he got two lines
in an inside column
of a Madras newspaper
sold by the kilo
exactly four weeks later
to streethawkers

who sell it in turn
to the small groceries
where I buy salt,
and jaggery
in newspaper cones
that I usually read

for fun, and lately
in the hope of finding
these obituary lines.
And he left us
a changed mother
and more than
one annual ritual.

Poem by AK Ramanujan