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rizio yohannan raj

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Rizio Yohannan Raj



Horned Lark Male, Ladakh. Photo by Nitoo Das




DESERT POEMS

1.

Beloved,
how shall I describe to you
this maddening desert in heat
that has pressed into its baked soil,
all my thirst for time and beauty?

Woman of laughter,
how do I gift you in plain words,
this interminable meeting ground
of chirpy little things:
this shimmering land of insatiable females--
women of all species who hide
a thousand seas of desire
deep within the moist buds of their eyes?

Would you mock at the yearning of their red veils,
and the fervour of these sandstorms?

Water girl,
would your translucent skin
be hurt by my hard tongue,
my twilight language of reversals?

She says:

Your intense voice fills my dawn
with a certain splendorous wilderness, and
I turn into a sunburst of love and longing.

2.
Secret of the Wilderness


While making love,
my winged companions
gather their fluttering lust
into a tuft of endurance,
the man of war thus begins
to untie for his sweetheart,
a new desert secret,
as if it were his last waterskin.

Imagine this mystery bird, dearest,
his voice turns into a reverie:
sparrow, bush chat, pipit,lark,
name her what you will;
white-browed, grey-rumped,
O forget these descriptions, for,
all the magic is in her stride alternating
between her passion and her purpose.

And do you see the he-bird, my love,
he is my true brother in this wilderness;
he has laid bare his bragging post
before his woman's artless seeking,
as I have surrendered my ardour to you.

But she is the original wonder—
now, switch-sideling along the parapet
to accept that hopper's awkward wooing;
next, sidestepping, double-scratching,
and running twig-beaked and dust-feathered
into and out of this recess above my veranda,
to erect an eternal spring house against the rising heat;
again, good-naturedly letting him mount her
in a series of learning-to-balance acts—
it is riveting, my dusk-toned woman,
how this bird trades the magnificent flights,
filigreed songs and flourishing dances
long nestled in her slender longing,
for this groundwork for homemaking
in the sheer hope of transforming
the vulnerable passion of her species
into a play field of patience and survival.

My love, join me right now
to realise the rare exchange of secrets
ordained between the original bipeds—
birds and humans.

We shall close our eyes and receive
from their twittering lightness,
the very lesson in perseverance
we had doggedly refused to accept
from the teeming underbelly
of the city of our grooming.

And let us present to them,
not in return but irresistibly,
the most candid tones of our war cries,
and our ancient many-splendoured loves
we must now set free from these havelis.

Thus shall we bond urgently
with this mirror-eyed pair, and
turn into horny desert oracles—
woman, he-bird, man, she-bird—
resolutely blending lust and lightness
in order to hatch our vital future
of luminous co-existence.


RITES OF PASSAGE

Star Stories

1
dust, rising
star, imagined
sky, listening
2
bearing, intense
star, horizoned
sky, reveried
3
selves, fusing
star, transformed
sky, wakening
4
light, forgetful
star, starring
sky, haloed
5
giant, shrinking
star, darkling
sky, mourning
6
dust, returning
star, ravenous
sky, silent, witnessing

Fish Stories
1
egg, eyed
fish, unborn
water, unmarked
2
gravel, trusted
fish, yolked
water, stirring
3
all-one, one-all
fish, hiding
water, seeking
4
fry, smolting
fish, moving
water, salting
5
scales, silver
fish, fishing
water, yawning
6
colour, splendorous
fish, returning
water, flowing, unmarked

Bird Stories
1
joy, spent
bird, intuited
wind, still
2
feather, fine
bird, nestled
wind, light
3
love, feathered
bird, fledged
wind, stirred
4
wing, possessed
bird, covetous
wind, impassioned
5
distance, irresistible
bird, vagrant
wind, aroused
6
nest, revealed
bird, invoked
wind, still, dreaming

Tree Stories
1
leaves, purple
trees, fragrant
earth, thrusting
2
leaves, spicy
trees, bursting
earth, sizzling
3
leaves, luminous
trees, winged
earth, moist
4
leaves, florid
trees, flaming
earth, dry
5
leaves, burnt
trees, blunt
earth, enduring
6
leaves, reminisced
trees, wraithlike
earth, cracking, knowing

Soul Stories
1
limbs, feral
soul, darkling
fire, emergent, waiting
2
eye, dreaming
soul, drifting
fire, hunted
3
tongue, beset
soul, spirited
fire, dreaded
4
reason, hearthed
soul, seasoned
fire, fenced
5
mind, split
soul, forged
fire, raised
6
all, none
soul, done
fire, emergent, knowing

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