Poetry: Jagari Mukherjee

Jagari Mukherjee
THE MONASTERY

After 23 years,
I search for my
Fifteen-year old self
In the Kharbandi Gompa
At Rinchending – silently looking
At the lovely golden Shakhyamuni Buddha
In the hall that comforts me
Like a mother’s womb
 Where, safe as a fetus
I prayed for good results
In my board exams.
I turned the four giant prayer wheels –
Red, with colorful motifs –
And prayed for ninety percent marks.

Today, I yearn for the clock
To turn back 23 years, transporting me
To Kharbandi, where I will walk
All the way from Phuntsholing
Soothed by wildflower-covered mountains.
Entering the prayer hall,
I once again become
A carefree fetus in the safety
Of a cool dark womb
Blessed by the Sakhyamuni Buddha.

I will turn the giant prayer wheels again
This time – grateful to have found
The only refuge for my bruised soul.
  

PHOTOGRAPH

You look at my photograph
Of four years ago, and then at me;
I read the verdict
In your compassionate eyes –
You see clearly the sorrows
Etched in my expression
Like ink stains on a silk scarf.

The taste of unseen pain
Is concealed like
Dissolved sugar cubes in tea –
I can understand when I drink.
The tangible flavor of pain
Gives birth to sorrows  that
Stain me deep; and so
You look at me, and wonder
At the photograph from four years ago.


VERMILLION

My mother, worried about her divorced daughter
Took me to the astrologer.
“You’ll marry again,” he said,
“A husband as handsome as the moon
And as rich as a prince
Awaits you in a year’s time.”
“Really?” I asked, fascinated,
Stealing a smiling glance at the
Looking glass on the wall.
“Yes, really,” he replied,
“But nothing in the world
Can exist without effort. So,
You must buy two precious stones
From my shop –
A cat’s eye and a sapphire –
And make them into rings bound by gold.
Within a year, you will have a
Vermilion mark on your forehead.”

My mother led me, entranced
To a glass counter displaying colorful gems –
In one corner, hazel cats’ eyes
Glimmered like the suppressed fire
Within me, and in another,
Violet sapphires twinkled, offering me
Their crystallized sweets.

The astrologer whispered a mantra
In my ears.
“You want a husband, don’t you?
These magic stones cost only
Fifty thousand rupees each.
Binding them with gold –
Another fifty thousand.
Two rings for two lakhs.
The fortunes of a married woman awaits you.
I can see your forehead adorned
With vermilion, burnt-red
Like a smear of blood…”


MORNING PROMISES

A spring morning starting cool –
I nestle in a bamboo chair
Next to a wooden chair
With three jars of lime pickles kept on it
Made by my father, left out
To strengthen in the sunlight –
The sun hasn’t come out bright yet.
I keep promising myself that
I will learn to make lime pickles
From my father, next time.

My mother hangs two pretty nightgowns
Out to dry in the sun –
One red with white polka dots,
Another a shocking yellow with purple flowers –
Both smelling of washing powder.
The sun hasn’t come out bright yet.
I keep promising myself that
I will wash them myself
And dry them too, next time.

The milkman delivers two packets of cold milk
Right at the doorstep.
My sister keeps  the packets in the fridge
To save the milk from the sun.
The sun hasn’t come out bright yet.
I keep promising myself that
I will pick up the milk myself
And boil it in a pan, next time.

My spiral-bound notebook and a Dollar Tree pen
Lie invitingly before me –
I keep promising myself that
I will write a poem every morning
Whether the sun comes out or not.
And this is a promise
I find easy to keep and renew daily –
Writing though the early hours
Alive with activities
Before the sun turns the cool morning warm. 


CHECKLIST

Morning checklist –
Lemon water
Strong coffee
Breakfast with fruit
Walk in park
Mint tea
Emergency antidepressants

Telling myself
Every single day
I cannot die yet
Although the agony of living, is
Really heavy stuff

My ratio is
Four dark days
To one good day
A poem if lucky

Repeat
Four dark days
One good day
Antidepressants
Pills and poems –
Cannot die yet. 

4 comments :

  1. Every one of the above is a gem of a poetry.
    There is a sprinkling of sadness like streams
    falling from the mountains high above/
    I ,honestly miss poems adorned with love.
    I wish you wrote some.
    may be they are hidden some where in the rubble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's see..😊. And thank you so much!

      Delete

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