presence / presentation

Image source: http://www.polyvore.com/ballet_dancer_silhouette_17_24h/thing?id=66665898
Image source: http://www.polyvore.com/ballet_dancer_silhouette_17_24h/thing?id=66665898

At times it becomes apparent to me,
that I occupy quite a lot of space.

I may start out of medium size,
with longish limbs and a short torso,
and a tendency to keep these wrapped up around each other.

But if you ask me to speak, to say, to perform,
then slowly, I begin to unfold,
one gesture at a time, into a circling kind of dance;
my range of movement evolving into one higher.

Slowly, I start to take up more space,
my limbs, stretching,
my hands, talking,
my posture, lengthening,
my eyes, brightening,
my voice, burgeoning.

I start to feel what I am saying,
I start to become those words.
I start to live these concepts I describe;
I see myself unfolding as a story told.

Tell me, when I unfold this way,
do you see me; do you feel my enhanced frame?

Does my size make you want to unfold too, to join me,
or do I make you want to shrink back into your space?

~

What kind of presence do you have, and how does that presence become enhanced when you are doing things you enjoy?

Do you ever feel that someone is “in your space”, or that you need more space in order to really be you?

Do you worry that your presence could unintentionally encroach on that of others, preventing them from fully expressing themselves?

two poems: “Museum” and “courtyard, unedited”

Two poems: Museum and courtyard, unedited

These pieces were written while and after visiting the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. The first, Museum, is a reflection on history, civilizations, art and interpretation. The second piece, courtyard, unedited, was penned while sitting in the Museum’s inner courtyard, and has intentionally been left unedited in order to maintain for the reader, the flow of inspiration as originally felt. It contains English as well as another Hindi-Urdu mixed language that sometimes spills onto the page. Please excuse my rough transliteration attempt as neither of these is my first language.

DSC_0412
View of the courtyard, looking up from the main floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.
Photos taken in and around the Aga Khan Museum, courtesy of Asif Virani, 2014.
View of the courtyard from the second floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.
DSC_0441
Up-close view of one of the metal screens/jaali on the second floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.

Museum

What will the people from days to come decide to make of us,
what will they preserve in their halls?

Those gone by have become to us what remains of them,
after all tribulation and epiphany fell away into dust.

They have become what we can still understand of them.

~

There is too much left to know about knowing; not enough left to see.

We fear we are penning lines already penned by those greater than us,
a people that truly saw the truth unfold.

Nothing can be said now that has not been said before;
our efforts, mere echoes of a greater, grander voice.

What inspired these carvers, and what were they trying to say –
can we be certain that we have preserved ourselves against misunderstanding?

Did they create these shapes because those are what they saw,
or were they too, seeking to lose themselves in detailed but repetitive abstraction?

Do these patterns transcend a name?

~ ~ ~

courtyard, unedited

is jahaan mein hum upna sub kuch kho sakte hain,
sub kuch seekh  bhi saktehain

aisa husn ko bananekiliye, aisi roshni, is roshni, ki zaroorat hai

this light is something like the light of the heavens and the earth;
this light has an unnameable quality to it,
a way for all to see all

bathed in it my hand resting on the table becomes something from another world,
translucent, light diffusing outward in the place of rosy flesh

your eyes are from another time here, where patterns repeat themselves to liberate beyond eye’s capacity, where voices rise to a crescendo and we take in,

light,
light,
light, light light,

upon our hands, our face, and every
one is so beautiful here today

yahaan aake kuch bhi likhdijiye,
sub kuch shahiri banjayegi

yahaan aake kuch khaaneki zaroorat nahin mehsoos hoti,
in hawaaon, saa(n)son, is jahaan ka rooh hi kaafi hai

yahaan rehekar kuch chaate hai hum,
kuch khona bhi chaate hain

kuch cheez samaj na chaate hain hum,
kuch cheez humko yaad aatihai

kuch cheez hamaari thi, hamaari hai,
hamaare dil me se nikalke,
humhi ke aage jhoom uthi

keherahihai:

agar aapke dil mein koi baat phool ki tarha khilrahihain,
to usse khilne do;
mat sochiye

agar aapke ander koi baat hai, to aap dil ki zubaan se usse pehsh karo,
chaahe koi samje ya na samje

agar koi lafz kaafi nahin lagte,
to khudh ke lafaazon banaalo

khudh ki zubaan banaalo,

koi samje, ya na samje

~

A rough translation of courtyard, unedited:

in this place/world we can lose/forget everything of/about ourselves;
we can also learn everything

to make this kind of beauty, this type of light, this light, is needed

come here and write anything at all,
it will become poetry / anything written here becomes poetry

here, there is no need felt for eating,
these winds, breaths, the soul of this place/world is enough

staying/being here, we desire something;
also, something we wish to lose

some things we understand,
and some things, we remember

some things were ours, are ours;
some things come out from our own hearts
and have come alive/to dance in front of us

they say:

if something blossoms like a flower in your heart,
then allow it to blossom,
think not

if there is something in you that wants to be said, then use the language of your heart to convey it,
whether anyone understands or not

if no words seem enough,
then make up your own words

make up your own language,

whether anyone understands, or not

dissolving further all the time (2014)

Somewhere along Balmy Beach, Toronto, ON.  © Saara Punjani 2013.
Somewhere along Balmy Beach, Toronto, ON.
© Saara Punjani 2013.

each time we turned
to rise above this illusion of the finite,
we were met with a ceiling – not yet, not yet

we made steady ablutions
and we kept a hopeful heart
and still, we were not crowned to go on

~

a kite without a string
would be blown every which way on the ground;

a kite with a string
rises high in finite direction

yet, without the string
we could not have come
as far as we already have

how far must we rise before the string can be cut;
before we are unbound from the direction of our path?

how far must we rise before we are taken into the skies,
mere specks, dissolving further all the time?

~

on this day, listen, to the quiet,
as clearly, some things are being said

whether we move,
upward,
inward,
outward or forward,
we cannot begin to say

the tides pull us away,
that we forget you;

the tides push us so far
that we fall right in

here we have always been, unmoving in the movement,
immersed in the truth of your most impressive signs

let us dig deeper, look farther, stay awake longer;
let us continue searching for you

let us be so obviously engrossed,
mere specks, dissolving further all the time

the centre (2014)

 

Image sourced from TheIsmaili.org: http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres/toronto/architecture-toronto-0
Image sourced from TheIsmaili.org: http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres/toronto/architecture-toronto-0

think, if someone were to give us a new eye,
a new way to see the soul in everything

~

we asked for peace so many times
that an entire abode was fashioned before our eyes

a place where peace literally throbs;
the heart and soul of a structure that is seemingly alive

 

none of us can be much of anything here

 

the night sky and the sky of the infinite
blend seamlessly into a protective garment

each encoded manifestation of truth
begs to be known, to be unified

 

something has shifted, here

— a new era emerges from the folds

~

it is what it is,
but also, what we bring to it;
this place, it opens all doors

how long would you seek truth
before participating in it,
how long would you look, before you saw?

 

the garden has grown up all around

 

once, there was nothing,

and then,

and then.

retreat (2014)

tonight, we are so quiet
that the heavens themselves reach
down to take us up, to take us in

for days we have retreated
into and away from ourselves,
at times ebbing, at times flowing

~

nothing and no one can give us what we already have

my heart’s tapestry is woven with your thread
but i was the patient weaver

i’ve known your melody for a time
but i’ve made my music longer

the gifts you gave were empty boxes
until the moment i opened them

~

tonight, i am the night
and the stars, and the breeze

i deepen

and then i fade
into the morning light

this fresh instance (2014)

"That all men may know his work." Inscription in the ceiling of the Royal Ontario Museum. © Saara Punjani 2013.
“That all men may know His work.” Inscription in the ceiling of the Royal Ontario Museum. © Saara Punjani 2013.

who can say we have no need of a poet?

how many times we need eat the same message
yet certainly it tastes better when fresh!

~

let me bake this fresh instance,
let me sing this fluttering green;
let me whirl the tunic of my heart round;
let me paint this golden sheen

let me make this message something you know,
something you recognize;
something that knocks on the door of your stillness
and rouses you into a poet too

 

 

the frame (2014)

i would love to be in your movie

see how you frame those in love?

their breath, crisp on water wings
their abode, all of nature’s backdrop
every celestial body shaamil in their moment

would that i could be the one in the frame,
the one in the midst of it all

~

their love through the lens,
the viewer twice-removed

you are her, the beloved in the frame,
says the one farther removed than i