Poetry: Bashabi Fraser, CBE

Bashabi Fraser
A Sharp Equation

With spring came a fresh impetus
Implemented by the melting snow
Somewhere in the crystal north -
It urged the burn to flow
Swiftly and push back the sludge
Of duckweed to the loch’s 
Limits, creating the free territory
For the hatch of cygnets to swim amok,
Watched by the bright cautious eyes
Of graceful parent sentinels
Ready to flare up if a playful dog
Or a curious camera came dangerously close.

The five brown youngsters have billowed
To ripeness till it is time to be shoved out
To make room for their next set of siblings
To emerge and know the same currents
Of cautious care of 2 + 5 that has to be
Maintained in loch and burn with no room
For claims or rivalries from an older brood.
***


A lonely Race

A river’s journey is long and lonely 
Like the veteran long distance runner
A challenge from start to finish
An adventure at every ripple of my flow
I have no consort or companion
No mother’s arms, no sibling’s rivalry -
I am a witness through time
I revel in reminiscence and reflection
I mirror heaven’s fury and kindness
I salute panoramic vistas
I lash past every urban sprawl
And lap around humble villages.

I am a solitary meanderer
Journeying to my finishing line
Which does not make me a champion
But swallows my singular identity
In a churning burial ground of eternal oblivion. 

Edinburgh 4/5 Sept. 2016
***


2020

The life that we knew
Of crowds of all hues
Waiting in queues
For known destinations
In quotidian missions
With hopes and visions -
Have all disappeared.

That life of coffee and cake
Of picnics by lakes
Of grand social bakes
That lunch with a friend
That parcel to send
That play at the end
Of the day – have been snatched away.

And on each lonely day
With hope held at bay
And a fear here to stay
We hear the wave crashing
Like a breaker smashing
From distant shores
Against our clamped doors.
***


Triveni and Mamilla

This is the Triveni , the confluence where three
rivers of culture converge, the Mohona  of merging
histories. Here the fez and kippah brave the noonday
sun where the crown of thorns has withered to allow
olive and lemon trees to nurture and sustain the city’s
diversity, watered by the clouds rising from the mountain
stream of Nahal Katlav and the neighbouring Jordan. 
This is where the Prophets of the confluence found the shade
of leafy comfort and the droplets of quenching coolness.

Here the Sahabah  found rest, contemplating on the 
hills beyond, and thousands found solace at their side
when their tired bones returned to the dust from which
life once sprang. So let them lie and let us light a candle of 
hope to those who sleep and for those who pass as they
know that this is the democratic corner where pundit,
pauper and priest rest from Byzantine’s splendid days, 
through time, pleading to us to desist from ruffling 
the dust that holds many layered secrets of possible harmony.
***

1. Triveni is another name for the confluence where three rivers meet at Allahabad in India.
2. Mohona is a confluence.
3. Disciples of  the Prophet Mohammed.
***

Bashabi Fraser is Professor Emerita, and a former Professor of English and Creative Writing. She is the co-founder and Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies and Chief Editor of the academic and creative e-journal, Gitanjali and Beyond. Bashabi is also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Dundee and an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of From the Ganga to the Tay, an epic poem.

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