Poetry: Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya

Grant us the wisdom to survive
like trees that live long, enriching the planet –
loyal protectors of the realm, standing firm, 
asking nothing in return of heaven or earth.

Grant us the wisdom to imagine
like oysters transforming grit into pearl –
the need to give and forgive, not merely receive,
the giving growing, becoming something precious.

Grant us the wisdom to rejoice
a long time after we are returned to earth, the lives 
we leave behind may cherish the fruits of our action –
a million species saved from extinction.

Grant us the wisdom to love –
love without limit, love that casts a widening
circle of light for the world to walk forward in,
singing the songs of its forgotten springs.

Grant us the wisdom to pray –
pray to set right the injustices we perpetuate,
courage to change the things that must be changed,
else there will be nothing left to live for.


– reefs sway in all their splendour,
forests of filigreed corals pulsing with colour –

– reclusive creatures, neither plant nor animal
in caves, canyons, valleys of the deep in thrall –

– male seahorses flee, flashing trails of amber,
sharing secrets we are slow to decipher –

– giant arapaima swim among piranhas,
their mineralised scales a massive shield –

– dolphins with X-ray vision, peer
inside the stomach of sharks just for a laugh –

– catfish, big swinging tongue, taste prey from afar,
colossal squids digest food with their brains –

– seaweeds sigh when air rushes into their fold,
sea serpents soar on tides, bodies streamlined –

– turtles, octopi, starfish, sea urchins, jellyfish,
even the modest plankton displays a mind of its own –

– dragonfish hunt in the inky depths of seas,
submarine volcanoes light a ring of fire –

– the ebb and flow of waves and tides is nothing 
but energy passing through water, unceasing –

– creation offers a fleeting vision of perfection,
the innocence and purity, the resilience of instinct –


A professional assassin, strikes without warning,
works with exaggerated slowness and precision,
plays a game of cat-and-mouse, leaving me
stunned in a tangle of nerves as it sucks the energy 
out of me, flicking my days like images on a screen –
menacing lions ready to drag me into oblivion
when the jungle morphs with flashes of lightning,
and loneliness shows me things I’d never seen –
past and future unfurling in ways unimagined,
my days measured in blister packs of agony.
Lying under the duvet, grief torn, I marvel 
at shafts of light that lean in like angels of mercy.
For a brief moment dust appears luminescent,
glowing fireflies dancing in the light.

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