Poetry: Bashabi Fraser

Bashabi Fraser
After the final exams: in the schoolyard 

We are back in that moment
When the present stretches
Like the pine trees around us
Sun-tipped and comfortably still.
That moment when the past
Has been folded away
With lavender flowers
In a chest of drawers –
Each for one class of every year
That we have packed, parcelled
And closed decisively.
With exams over. we can lounge
Lazily like the school cat
Taking in the vistas of range
On range of wooded hills,
Unchallenged by their daring
Crests, spellbound by their magic.
The future awaits beyond these
Mountains, unravelling on the plains
Below – invisible for now.

The wind has not galloped here
To propel the falcon in flight
Who hovers in an opal sky
Beyond our vision and intent.
This is that moment which we share
With friends who have been friends
For years, this moment between
The past and future, when we
Have no ambition or idea,
No anxiety, mission or fear
Of what awaits us.  Happy
For now in this unhappening
Moment, a present when
Life knows the bliss
Of not turning back or moving on -
Van Gogh’s sunflowers reflecting
The sun’s captivating glance.
***

My daughter learns to swim

The arguments had seemed endless
She had just turned seventeen
Her driving lessons could begin
But I laid down a condition
She should first learn how to swim
And then we would book the lessons
She so longed for behind the wheel
I reasoned swimming was a life-saving
Skill and one which would let her join in
With her mates on weekend getaways.
The resentment drew barbed wires
Between her and me till we were in Goa
Where one charming Dutch trainer
Shared the pool with us. Would he teach
My lass I hesitantly asked
Learning she was eighteen, the seventy year
Old jauntily volunteered. She was furious
But could not refuse a gracious offer.
An hour later I was called to the poolside
She stood on the edge marking my approach
Once I was there, she raised her arms
And dived in, rippling across the pool
Each stroke a rhythmic arch
Her body like an arrow set free
Challenging the length and pirouetting back
To where I stood watching
The most splendid solo performance of a superb artist.

(28 May 2017, Kolkata)
***

The Unexpected Visitor

I heard the peal of thunder
Break the sky asunder
I heard the palm tree crash
With lightning’s blinding flash
When you appeared at my humble door
Your face illuminated
Your garment agitated
You stood expectantly, not cowered
By the fierce downpour.

I looked at you with wonder
What had urged you to surrender
To the vagaries of this tumultuous night
When the river rose in rage
And all the birds took flight
From which hell’s gate had you run away?
But I did not question you
I only welcomed you
To this sanctuary which holds storms at bay.

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