Poems by Jagari Mukherjee

Jagari Mukherjee

The wall of Ling’s Pavilion*
had a mural of a river
with mysterious boats and merchants.
It made me dream
of traveling along such a route
carrying treasure-chests of 
colorful silks and fragrant tea.
I wanted to escape from
the heartbreak of my
early twenties and visited
the restaurant often.
Every time I looked at the wall
I wished I were Alice
and the wall was a looking glass
or a wonderland that I could
escape into and be transported
to a time, or rather, a place
of stillness and peace.
Of course – it is an imaginary world
where there are no wars
and no pirates on the river
in the mural.

*A Chinese restaurant in South Bombay

The warm honey of orange sunlight
Every morning, and the trees
In dresses of dark green leaves
Restore my tired spirits, and I
Am renewed, as if I have drunk
A concoction of syrups magical –
And I sit in a bamboo chair
On the balcony, trying to take it
All in with my every breath, when
My eyes fall on a dark red hibiscus
Nestled like a heart in a body of green.

For a while, I desire the hibiscus in my hair
To adorn me, and as I look,
My desire to possess the flower envelop me
Like a handmade quilt, and I, enjoying its warmth, fantasize
About the hibiscus as a hair clip.

But it looks so content
Snuggled among leaves, so fulfilled…
That I, ashamed, am reluctant
To pluck out a lovely heart, and
Let it be.


If to be or not to be
Is a question, then I would
Rather not be.
The endless pain in my soul                                                                                                                                                        
Weaves a tapestry of scenes
From my life – all throughout I see
Only a great love lost and
Dreams that dies in the forest fires of reality…

There’s no question of Being
In the dark cold lifeless aftermath
Of a forest fire – all around is only ash.
I shiver in the naked loneliness
Of the unloved soul. The sum of
The Parts did not make a Whole.
All theories are lies designed to suit the Liar.
I lie in bed in disturbed sleep
Dreaming of losing myself in
The cold burnt forest with only
The silence whirling like the wind…


I had to leave you in haste
Leaving my saree on your bed
Where, for a few hours, our bodies met.
My saree was a gorgeous blue –
Your favorite hue, which you unwrapped
To draw your maps on me, so that the sky
And the earth communed, and you left
Your soil on the clouds. I could hear, as we moved
The key jingling like a bell that chimed;
We could make love that rhymed
And afterwards, I wanted to wait awhile
So that I could hold your hand with a smile.
But I had to go somewhere
And so, I did not dare
To stay, and in haste I wore
A top and a skirt that floral motifs bore
In imitation of the flowers of your earth
Full of spring and its mirth.
In gratitude I left my key
With you, as a token of the sky and me.


He is a pale pastel watercolor, and
she, a charcoal sketch…
by no stretch of imagination
will they mix in a palette –
and yet, I try to fill
my art galleries…
I leave all the rest
To the unashamed imagination
of what or who should
in transience
or permanence
be a part of
life’s show.

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