A colour we cannot name. © Saara Punjani 2014.
the water of the stream flows to its end
and i, flow in all planes to the beloved
the beloved calls, and i dissolve into the wind;
the beloved exists, so i go
these waters gleam now and again silver,
now and again a colour we cannot name
we think we glimpsed the beloved’s face reflected there
now we undertake this pilgrimage every day
the beloved is, so i am too,
for the moment
the water of the stream flows to its end
and i, on my way to the beloved
i write a letter to the beloved
my fingers move only in love
i move in love
and love moves me;
which sense to keep when loved by the beloved;
which of any of my things could i need?
what use for eyes that see the beloved everywhere;
for direction when upon the beloved’s door?
nothing need make be sense said anymore
the beloved knows what i would write before i do;
the beloved in my veins, in my blood
to speak of this, is to be silent
this night bears witness of the re-emergence of i
who extracts the self from the folds of us all
to take up seat in the presence of the beloved
who can stay locked up when the beloved comes to call;
who can refuse the sweet companionship?
every surface on which the beloved’s gaze falls,
loves, breathes, swings and sways in rapture
no one taught me how to find you
but you taught me
by the pen
no one told me i already knew you
but you tell me
inside me, whole seas part
to reveal the way
to your shore
i have come upon myself
in a way
like never before
lately we have settled into a rhythm,
the beloved and i
breathing in and out of each other
i take you in, deeply;
i follow your sweet musk on the air
you fill my chest and yet you are always
just beyond the deepest breath i can take
i close my eyes and listen for the arrival
of the beloved on the shores of my heart
where is the beloved now, even he does not know;
the horizon, an ever-unreachable illusion across the vast empty sky
i linger still, in the sand of our memories
which even now is freshly turned with the tread of soft feet
every wave which comes to bump up against my heart
sings a slightly different song than the one before it
in every stone i see the face of the beloved looking back at me;
in every wave is the depth of his eyes
each wave comes asking to move me,
to share news of the beloved’s journey from afar
do i want to know what news they carry of the beloved?
the last vessel has sailed from my shores
and there are none who can carry me across myself
i cannot send anyone after the beloved
but i take comfort in knowing
that i see the very same horizon
i am quiet;
i am still
a stone thrown could not change this
and neither could one pour more water
to move me
“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
this, is the shower of your blessing
the one that comes down as music
needing only something off which to sound
we hover now, on the best place there is:
on the threshold, a step away from your rain,
but not fully inside of it
only here can we truly appreciate what you send
were we immersed,
we could not see how this rain drops abundantly on every leaf,
each of which curls, bows, in gratitude
were we too far away
we could not see how this rain constantly merges with itself,
ever merging into larger course
a trickle to a stream, a stream to a river:
instinctively, we know where this merger leads
Dawn, or dusk. © Saara Punjani 2014.
the earth we tilled with your mercy
is covered in a layer of dust
ourselves, producers of little rain,
dry in the eye and empty in the chest
i, never an oasis but always home to green,
turn to sand carried swiftly away
at times i wonder,
am i rumi or am i shams?
am i to receive
or will i ever inspire,
not as me,
but of you?
will a day come when i
am finally what you intended,
when i am no longer a sum of ingredient?
keep me apart here,
i have no complaint,
but please, please tell me this:
am i here to await the coming of a light,
or am i here to myself become one?
a flower blooms steadily in love:
desiring for sun to gaze upon its every part
yearning for dew to slide slowly over each curve
at the peak of its love, each petal arches so strongly
that it breaks free of everything and goes on
what sun shines here, a dusty lamp;
what morning wet, a mere drop
tell me, if i break free,
will you place a palm underneath and carry me?
a power enters our vessel this night
we stand, electrified
as a force from elsewhere courses through
for months we have opened this door and that
looking for the place we once stumbled upon
looking for the feeling which could not be stored
now here, under crescent moon and darkened sky
where soft waves keep consistent rhythm
here, is a glistening sign
what has taken hold of us this time?
the sky as though unlidded;
ourselves, similarly so
what stirs the trees to move as they do?
what force leaves its mark in the sand?
this power both beckons and warns
once again we are on the verge of sleeplessness,
once more, on the edge of your cliff
Pink roses. © Saara Punjani 2014.
the time of our rose has passed us,
and we become more bitter by the day
reach out your hand and pluck us, love;
remove us from the misery of these days
this is not our season;
this place is not our stage
linger though we might,
we are so much less dazzling
though we recall how beautiful
we’ve once been
the blossom that grew us
from the seed of our names
robed us in a quality,
have we been asleep,
or have we been afraid
to let go, to move on,
come what may?
there is no telling
what we will be
the moment after the one
where we are
what fruit may we bear,
if we trust in ourselves,
if we let ourselves be,
who we are?
our bitterness weighs
on the very branch that nurtured us,
and we wilt and we droop in our pain
our poison spreads
we see it,
but we don’t stop it,
and that makes us very afraid.
straight lines do not inspire us;
straight lines, they make up a fence
now we look for empathy in coffee mugs
and the faces of the people in the street
where is the warmth we knew and loved?
where, where, is the sun?
why does repetition here not lead
to the liberation we have come to find in you?
where we are now, there are similarly
levels upon levels to climb
but with you what could be attained in a moment of love,
here takes years and years
far too long have i loved you and your accommodation;
you take me as i am, and i need not win you over, because
you will never leave
the straight lines in which we now clothe ourselves
and the straight lines upon which we walk
are none like the directness with which we approached you,
one bead of light at a time, along the length of your rope
today’s cold, crisp leaf passes me by
why do we not connect as we once did?
i fear that
this green will not come again in all of its freshness
why do we not remain in life as we once did?
for certain, no good comes of joy without equal parts pain
joy, the flutter of the leaf still connected; pain, the moment of parting ways
but what to call the reality of dead wood, where there is not a leaf in sight, but only a thickening numbness?
The most beautiful thing. © Saara Punjani 2014.
why do we go all around
the world and places like it?
why do you want to take me where you’ve been?
what makes you whole
makes me whole, too
the feeling you seek,
is my life
how long will we flit,
two bees on the same flower
returning home to tell stories
of the most beautiful thing?
what you love, is what i love too,
though i am not your bee
you needn’t see with my eyes,
you needn’t feel with my heart
to know how hundreds of fields
years do not slowly shape this knowledge,
as waves tend to slowly shape shore
put us in a room of strangers aboard a slowly sinking ship,
and no one need explain what to do
if a man leaves a room, and we dislike him,
we paint that dislike onto his memory
so as not to have to dislike ourselves
but if a man leaves the world,
suddenly, all surfaces are occupied;
where now do we place our colours?
in a sinking ship, none are friends,
and yet, we know each other well
in my eyes, you can see your grief;
in your grief, i see all of me
never have we shared a meal
as candid as this one,
and today, i wear my face without paint.
who can say what should be done?
no longer can i breathe without running,
no longer can i eat before moving,
no longer can i speak before listening
no longer can i do
what if all i am furthering
have you come here to sit,
or have you come to work hard,
so that you may make something
from nothing at all?
play without work
makes only a stomach ache
and love without change,
a costly, boring painting!
i care not for the pleasures
you first give me of pain.
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
living in you is a sober kind of intoxication
in it, my capacity to give increases,
and a focus resolves: that each day must be lived
what you must do, is what has been assigned;
all you need know, is your task
will you be the one blade of grass that refuses to bow in the wind?
it’s incredible how fortunate we’ve been made;
it’s incredible how fortunate we’ve become.
take a step back from the frontline
– it is not your place
remove yourself from the head of the table
– it is not your place
step back from the position you’ve given yourself
in the world where you give yourself such prominence
those strings you think you hold,
are an illusion
if we told you to build a mountain,
or if we commanded you to fly,
you could do nothing
faced with the impossible,
you would harbour no illusion
of your own inherent limits
if you were to try, you could only whisper a prayer,
knowing you would have to rely
see what you’ve forgotten in your careful preparation;
see what you’ve overlooked in your careful research?
the ant does not concern itself with the possibility of an eclipse
remember your role; your place.
what is new about this day,
is it simply the flip of a sunny switch, or the overnight emergence of garden weed?
what do you want to be?
what do you want to change?
you have had the winter to yourself
now, prepare yourself to be grown
prepare yourself to be tamed, pruned
and tethered at the hands of another
prepare yourself to shift your roots
in accommodation of those that grow beside
it hurts, the pain of limiting yourself
though you know your own potential
to spread far and wide
but, if you shift your roots appropriately,
you will have set stage below ground for what will come to be above
what harmony you create in the hidden
is in every way what will come to be seen, outside
your choice to curb the tumorous growth of your self
is the reason for the interwoven canopy above
what will happen?
how will it happen?
… we do not know
do we know!
time after time and again,
you put me in my place
each seeping stain left by the sly foe, doubt,
you sponge from my heart with utmost tenderness
in a word, in a flash,
i know you again
i walk the narrowest road toward you,
no less fine than a hair
if there is anywhere to fall
it is directly into the mist below,
the end of your rope
is always in sight
all i must do is stretch out my hand
and you send it my way.
your rope – a lifeline for one who drowns
when in fact there is no other sea
if there is anywhere to drown,
it is directly into the height, width, and depth,
the essence of fleshy fruit lies in the pit,
the essence of pit, in the seed
the essence of seed, in the gift of new life;
the essence of life, in the tree.
i like you, me
you may be my twin sister unrealized
are you in my pen or in the page?
am i holding a magnet, that you rearrange your essence to meet me?
i am fond of you, me
you may be my outlet,
the electric source of all my harmony
or perhaps my inlet,
a moonlit sanctuary where only the tide governs our mood
i’ve found you, me
and i am not going to let you go!
you are exactly me, but better;
my counsel, my friend
your presence is better than a thousand praises to my name
give me hope! and keep me content
be my voice when all else is a confusing din
the signs of maturity within us say:
o dear heart, the friend will come again tomorrow
the friend lays beside, though he may rest elsewhere;
the friend knows you by your eye
the friend loves you more than you can know,
in dimension after dimension untold
look with a different eye
and you will see him holding you together from within
look with a different eye
that you may know him even after he departs forever from sight
o my love:
you are my footing, my keystone,
my place of rest,
my pilgrimage, my refuge, my harbour,