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          Volume 11 |Issue 05| February 03, 2012 |


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Poetry Powered by Passion

Syed Badrul Ahsan

Shulekha Chaudhury, Shimanto 3, acrylic on canvas, 2011.
Image: Courtesy

You ask, Pearl, if I love to walk in the light of the moon. You ask, and I gaze into your eyes, for the stars in the distant heavens somehow find their way into the way you look at me, in that semi-shy, semi-fearless manner. Should I go on answering your question? Your other questions?

I do walk in the light of the moon, smelling the grass as the scent of it wafts up to meet me. Have you walked on wet grass in riotous rain? There is that smell of nature which rises from it, right from the depths of its roots, to remind you of the beginning of life, of the inevitability of an end to it. I have seen aircraft taking those I love to faraway lands, casting a shadow across the face of the moon as they do so. And I have remembered the way the perfume rose from the hair of those I have loved, almost in intoxicating manner.

Your questions keep coming. Why do I touch you? Indeed, why do I love you so? Let the answer be short and swift, tinged with a dash of passion. I spot a tempestuous sea in you, a volcano which runs riot every time I touch you, there on that tender waist where the roots of poetry lie concealed in the river of my lyrical imagination. In that quick flash of lightning, it is the history of love which comes through a few seconds' communion with your lips. There is the smell of a stormy night on your mouth.

And then I recall the way wet grass smells after the rains, the way the earth gives off a scent which can only be a hint of how it was when Creation first came full circle billions of light years ago. It is an inebriated me who drinks of the fragrance in you. The smell of wet grass, the scent spiraling up from somewhere deep inside you as I run my hand on your bare shoulders, that mingling of shiver and ecstasy pushing you softly into a land of mystery — that is the handful of truth I carry with me as I walk in the light of the moon.

Atia Islam Anne, Women and Society 3, acrylic on canvas, 2009. Image: Courtesy

Smell is all, Pearl. Ensconced within the oyster in me, you smell pretty, to a point where you and I become the world, the world turns into the universe. And the universe is then ready to lose itself in the eternal. On a cratered ride through the wobbly streets of this dysfunctional city, the smell of burnt dried chili from a middle class home makes me think of you, you in your fleetingly long moments of indignation lasting through the night. Anger becomes you, as burnt dry chili assumes the dimensions of the landscape of my soul. Remember that long-ago night of lightning and thunder as the rain seeped through the hood of a rickshaw and we played passion games on a ride that stubbornly would not draw to a close?

The smell of rain on your honey swan neck was a reminder of a larger reality — of the symbolism of you as the messenger of the tidings of the monsoon. It was fecund earth I touched when my fingers sought the streams flowing out of the nooks and crannies of the valley in you. It is the implosion of emotions in you, fury aroused in a goddess of myth, I think I see in the fumes spewing out of dried chili roasting on twilight fire.

Yes, I do love walking in the light of the moon. The light gets pale, as pale as the fear in your cheeks when my fingers touch them in the full measure of devotion that only lovers know. The pale moon and a pale you cause a turning around of feelings, like the turning of a page. It is me arrested in the scent of a blossom that looks about to shrivel into silence. You ask, 'What if someone notices?' And I imagine the gurgling waves on a beach. They smell as you do, for you are the mermaid rising out of those waves. 'Don't make me weaker than I am', you whisper in plaintive manner. Your breath is a reminder of champagne I imbibed from your pouting lips on a summer night's excursion through a timeless desert aeons ago. Do I recall the champagne? Do I remember the lips? Do not seek to know the answer, for you will not walk up to the alcove with me to watch the stars dance in the waters of the stream.

In the light of the moon rises the sensation of burning dried fish on a mud stove fire in an ancient Bengal village. In me the soul burns, dwindling into ash and then turning wholesome again. The soul waits as a fleet of clouds in sheep-like formation close in on the moon. The creeping darkness smells the way you do when the lights go out in the room on a night of poetry powered by passion. You will come, Shona, for the earth made moist by quietly dropping dew holds the fragrance of your sensuousness. Sensuality is in the air.

The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star.

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