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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Ghanshyam - Kamala Das

Ghanshyam
- Kamala Das

Ghanshyam,
You have like a koel built your nest in the arbour of my heart.
My life, until now a sleeping jungle is at last astir with music.
You lead me along a route I have never known before
But at each turn when I near you
Like a spectral flame you vanish.
The flame of my prayer-lamp holds captive my future
I gaze into the red eye of death
The hot stare of truth unveiled.
Life is moisture
Life is water, semen and blood.
Death is drought
Death is the hot sauna leading to cool rest-rooms
Death is the last, lost sob of the relative
Beside the red-walled morgue.
O Shyam, my Ghanshyam
With words I weave a raiment for you
With songs a sky
With such music I liberate in the oceans their fervid dances
We played once a husk-game, my lover and I
His body needing mine,
His ageing body in its pride needing the need for mine
And each time his lust was quietned
And he turned his back on me
In panic I asked Dont you want me any longer dont you want me
Dont you dont you
In love when the snow slowly began to fall
Like a bird I migrated to warmer climes
That was my only method of survival
In this tragic game the unwise like children play
And often lose                      
At three in the morning
I wake trembling from dreams of a stark white loneliness,
Like bleached bones cracking in the desert-sun was my loneliness,
And each time my husband,
His mouth bitter with sleep,
Kisses, mumbling to me of love.
But if he is you and I am you
Who is loving who
Who is the husk who the kernel
Where is the body where is the soul
You come in strange forms
And your names are many.
Is it then a fact that I love the disguise
and the name more than I love you?
Can I consciously weaken bonds?
The child's umbilical cord shrivels and falls
But new connections begin, new traps arise
And new pains
Ghanashyam,
The cell of the eternal sun,
The blood of the eternal fire
The hue of the summer-air,
I want a peace that I can tote
Like an infant in my arms
I want a peace that will doze
In the whites of my eyes when I smile
The ones in saffron robes told me of you  
And when they left
I thought only of what they left unsaid
Wisdom must come in silence
When the guests have gone
The plates are washed
And the lights put out
Wisdom must steal in like a breeze
From beneath the shuttered door
Shyam O Ghanshyam
You have like a fisherman cast your net in the narrows
Of my mind
And towards you my thoughts today
Must race like enchanted fish...

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