I mourn the fireflies
There used to be so many
My grandparents say
They would looks at the trees at night
Seeing more firefly lights than stars in the sky
“There” they point, at the ancient mango tree
“It pulsed with light, like a forest breathing”
I found one in my room
I took him outside
He lit up and flew, disoriented
Not another firefly in sight
Like a news story breaking against a slow moving day
I sit by my cats on the balcony, sans headphone
calmly watching the way
so many move alone
Another word for it, isn’t provided for in the English language
I could put on new glasses and run away like a thought.
Different shades of shadows, in night sky and the night sea
Both hum like dream, while my eyes stay open
I could give you a new darkness, while I draw the curtains close
Keep your eyes closed if you like, you’ll still see moonlight
Here is part two as promised.
Many colour bearing, is my towering refuge
Posing and striking down, the women climb you like ants
A taste of wealth for the Potbellied and seated men
So amply endowed are the gift of this red earth
I know thy tongue better than my own
Your labyrinth speaks more languages than Babel
A blood price for your embrace, yet your kindness traps
Wandering birds that forget to migrate
Sharp fanged and crimson is the Goddess
In her hand she holds a heart, maybe yours
Divine Southern land, so rich is your sanctum
The gold glitters brighter in the colour of your lamps
Every word an unwilling prayer, every corner history laden
Mislaid spiderwebs in the sun and wind, wash away like your equals
But you ancient earth still remain
This poem while written grew longer and became a prayer. I have broken it, today comes the invocation, tomorrow I will publish the praise.
The seasons of my homeland are always embracing
Of the other, always longing and dreaming
The monsoon is a far traveller, missed by a perspiring summer
A humid air haunts this tryst of eager lovers
Deep green is the forest cover, a tongue striking
Across the wet mossy rocks and unbroken forests
Yet I live upon a crisp air laden, high plateau
Thrusting up into many faint seasons, passing fancies
A youthful green and yellowing flowering trees, above me
Violet flowers of an edging creeper, in the corner of what I see
Should it bare that name, the summer sun climaxing
When no sweat it brings out of me, should I call it by it’s name?
Oh heart, how is it you were so quickly filled?
Like a cage awaiting a trapped bird
The fountains gushed overflowing
And in floodwaters do my horses drink
It is a strange and foreign coast
It is a wishing well over-delivering
How else could I be happy?
She spills silver on the borderlines
And foam on the wave edges
As she shines light into that mirror
Circling and drowning, over and over
Sinking in blood, wearing ample gold
Back up from the deep sapphire sea
Again to colour the mountains
And make the smooth leaves shine
The Sun sails to every shore
The wind blowing West
Oh evening shade in your embrace I am only a subtle glace
Yet this arcane environ of the night feels so much like home
A gasping breath is drawn like an arrow in daylight
Yet in shadows panic has no accusation it calls unto itself
Worse still is the more fragile tension behind an expression
Only alone can it break and set free the long trapped sigh
I made my foray into Russian novels with Sholokhov’s “And quietly flows the Don”, far from the usual settings of Imperial Russia and a little too close to the modern world. I grimaced in anticipation of my mind sifting through every word and implication for political agreement as anyone who’s politics has been shaped by too much time online is wont to do.
Yet even the most irritating of internet tendencies stood no chance against Sholokhov’s masterful writing. It’s no surprise he was awarded a Nobel prize, awards like those need to affix themselves to worthwhile writers so that the other slop they push has some credibility.
Sholokhov takes an impressive approach to the Russian revolution where the vast plains of the steppe and the Don river flow with as much beauty and significance as the world changing events transpiring around them. In fact the beauty with which Sholokhov describes his homeland makes you wonder if he cares for the landscape more than the characters.
This is not to say the characters aren’t up to snuff, in typical Russian fashion we get a lengthy genealogy of a long and growing list of characters who are never anxious to present themselves till the war itself is ready to receive them. There is a certain resignation to the many trials and torments the characters suffer, a kind of apolitical eye examining the ups and downs of the war, never judging anyone for the shifting alliance and swaying tides of the war. Given that this was written after the war and by a communist, this is an intensely “realist” approach that gives the characters a great deal of room to change their minds and struggle against the tide of history.
In the hands of a lesser writer this searing focus on big men from small villages, the tragedy conveyed by their ignominious deaths in the Great War, the Civil War, German occupation and their obliviousness to what comes next might seem bitter. Yet in the able hands of Sholokhov, it is rather matter of fact, beautify but embodying a kind of indifferent and constant push onward much like a quiet river.
WordPress asks me what new skills I learnt recently as the text cursor waits for me expectantly. Well I learnt nothing and why it’s important. For a long time now I’ve been scouring various theogonies and mythologies from the Mediterranean to the Steppe. Nothing seemed to resonate till I returned to the one tradition that provoke the most resistance in me, Daoism. Of course the inscrutable I Ching was the least comforting guide in an urgent but dreadfully prolonged search for meaning. Yet the Tao says that a vessel is only useful because of the emptiness inside. Somehow I am a broken bell that now rings and I have been having the most pleasant dreams of the last few years. I’ve been mixing a little bit of Jung’s active imagination to the mix and yesterday I saw a forest in the fall, leaves brown and sweeping downwards, the forest floor aching for someone to trod on the leaves that yearn to crack and offer music to the scene. Nature is indeed a teacher as the Tao says, but I also saw a guide in black robes, face obscured with a dry leaf, beacon me closer into the dark of the dry forest – as though the season and the empty world beneath the canopies yearned to be filled by my curiosity. Nature is indeed a teacher and my master wields a leaf.