January 19, 2010

Two Poems

Janice

Bertha & I

Tonight I feel like Bertha Mason
with a fire and sadness in my soul.
I pace my room – this attic of madness –
it keeps me sane. I think it keeps me
whole, somehow. There’s no breeze
through the window, just an empty
vastness of night and shadow and
half-lights. And the knock on my door,
well, it came before – today, tomorrow,
or never, who knows. Tonight I am
Bertha Mason. I see her in the mirror,
lifting her hand to strike the match,
to knock the lantern over. I wait for
the crackle and hiss of wood, the empty
kiss of lapping flames. Yet all around
me is darkness, darkness. What burns
is a fury for what’s come before
and will again.

***

To Sylvia

When I put away Ariel
I cannot sleep, though
the night is as you describe
it – black, blue. With the moon,
a white knuckle and terribly
upset. Do you still brood
like a rook in winter,
somewhere behind flowering,
mystical clouds? Or walk
a dark landscape beneath
gothic yew trees? Has the
terror come to life in death?
If so, you could not
have escaped, except for
the aged face in the mirror
that now lies forever youthful;
in the back of your poetry books.
I wonder if you still drag your
marble-heavy bag full of god.
If you still hate as much as you
used to. Or has it all magically
faded and made you pure as
a pane of ice? A gift to the stars.
In the distance, I think I see Ariel
– the hurl of mud from hooves,
the brown arc of neck – and you
alongside, running towards morning.

***

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About: Janice Pariat

Janice Pariat is a freelance writer now based in her hometown Shillong after many years of being away in Delhi and elsewhere. She studied English Literature in St Stephen's College and Communications at Westminster, London. At the moment Janice is working on several projects -- a graphic novel set in Shillong, a first novel as well as a collection of poems based on women literary characters and writers.

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