This week we are featuring three beautiful poems from Indian poet Bhupender K Bhardwaj: “The Zone,” “Winter Afternoons,” and “Ebullience.” Bhardwaj demonstrates an incredible command over language and writes with beautiful imagery, whether it be wheat stalks in the sun or roasted capsicum. At times, his writing blurs the line between poetry and prose without ever losing the rhythm and flow of a carefully crafted poem.
To be away from the fenced-in ventilated mental space you call yours,
To be distanced from the shuttered shops, the cobblestones of the street
And the blue meditating between the gabled houses is to be in painful exile.
Removed become the routines that like a cave used to shelter you from the
Cruel jabs disappointments gave. Earlier, the white of milk in the hollow of
The glass used to mimic cosmos and your German shepherd lapping up water
From its customary bowl pleased you no end. The evening strolls along
The shaded avenues always took you one step closer to enlightenment.
The world was one gigantic jigsaw puzzle; open to interpretation whose pieces
Would fit in anyway, after the slightest effort.
To relocate elsewhere, even if for a day made the hammer of absurdity
Come crashing down on your head and the boy within would
Withdraw— a snail into its coiled shell.
Winter afternoons are terrific for their trademark light which honeys down
Into every inch of space between you and the objects, for the fluttering
Of worn-out flags rippling from the masts erected on the ramparts of
The colonial sports club. They drum up the coppery leaves in the living room
Of the splayed forest into a broadening music which hypnotizes you within
The parenthesis of your bony skull. At this hour when shadows don’t want
To depart from their owners, the balding hills with their hutments appear afloat
In mid-air lost in the maze of siesta. The smells of roasted capsicum which bring
Greetings to weariness and the vision of tragic goats ambling along the undulating
Ridges sum up the essence of kindness.
The sunrays singeing your skin with patience instill faith in you
Despite the innumerable cul-de-sacs your fate pushed you into.
This path which has remained
Undisturbed by the course
Of civilization; with its boulders—
Ancient prehistoric eggs beaming at you—
Zigzags down to the center
Of your heart straightway.
Dropping its altitude steadily,
It works its way through
The thorny bushes, congress grass
And lemon trees and lands you
In the folded palm of the earth
Which is this vaporous valley
That sings with the sacrifice of
Its soldiers who keep perishing
Of harshness and its farmers who
Gaily break their backs in the fields.
Here, where wheat stalks sway in
The sun of noon and bees thrum
Lazily, if you look closely at the
Wooden ploughshare ranged against
The furrowed field, between the initials
Deeply imprinted on its worn-out handle
Your grandfather’s spirit oscillating with
Ebullience can be clearly discerned.
Each poem stands beautifully on its own, and together they demonstrate the impressive range of abilities of Bhardwaj. Join us next week for another post!