Poems by Amrendra Pandey

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Midsummer

i

I was inside a labyrinth: A flood in front of me. The endless surge and fall of water. The deep ocean surface wavered before turned in white waves. When the waves receded, they left a little shimmer in my little eyes. At a distance, something washed ashore. A blue whale, or a huge seashell – its fin reflecting the moonlight, glittering whorls of its body. A crowd gathered. Assisting it, shouting for help. And there, in that night, this May evening appeared, covering the water and the coastline, with a paralyzing fear which is present today in its ripen red berries brighten by the rain, in its flowers of the copper pod trees.

ii

A shower and the town church, the clock tower, shops, atonal alleys of Malleshwaram glow in the green wind; and glow the first block of apartments, leaves in the gardens of pure white houses. In deeper levels, colonies, the lake beneath its first layer are unlit like the past; and the cold crabs, the coppery fishes. Bright ladybugs, termites, and moths are still in the future. Premonitions and hopes, like two tendrils, grow in grooves, eternally and methodically, the way bends grow in faraway hills. The mind too wishes to bend towards them, towards their names, their colors. But it stays in the same depth as held by some mysterious force.

iii

Each year when the street urchins dig sand with their little toes on the warm beaches, these summer evenings arrive with same deciduous boughs, credulous buildings, same outlines and descriptions on the shops. I live now in the middle, in one of the buildings, in a maze which is not steep and yet inescapable. Nonetheless, there is a wish to stay. I do not want to wend to a wordless continent. I enjoy here inside the short scribbling of the city.

Pedestrians on the road but only sights seem to move, seem to flutter — white spots fly on the canvass already darkened, compounded with lyrical voices of wings against the recent absence of other sounds after the lightning, after the sudden rain. It is like a Carnatic folk-song of a blind beggar couple, like stories concealed beneath the earth for many years until these summer evenings arrive.

iv

Two things, in May, merge in the flurry. Each moment becomes indefinitely long. It often takes an entire season to reach the next moment. However, one person surprisingly finds another person. One object witnesses another object.

v

Near Radha Krishna temple, near its gate with two-headed dragon finials, I encounter the memory of a twilight with its ochre sky, with its enigmatic betel and coconut plantations. That mute hour, concealed in this hour, is open to me, in which near the shore, I saw the creature — a blue whale, or, presumably, a seashell. And in a flash, each color spurted and appeared in their pure forms. Each form untangled. A mystery unwillingly unfolded by a tumultuous force that torn it asunder. Actions and objects usurped continuously like tiny sparks lightning the meandering trails on the sky. In the chasm of sleep and night, the intense rain erasing the memory of the creature, its encounter, and I, descending in its cavern hour by hour, dropping it, again rediscovering, again redefining. The next morning.

vi

I am inside my childhood home: A Sun in front of me. Shine on the walls, shine on the sky. Fields are submerged with cream colored water and all over frogs, like decoys, are singing. I walk on tracks, take known turns, look from the muddy bends — two possibilities on the fresh watery surface reflect each other, taking turns for the reality.   It must have flowed away in my sleep, I realize. And the dream of flood water, beach, and creature reappear to me in each summer as real things when the street urchins start to gather flecks of snails’ spires and apertures on the beach. Or it could be that I, washed ashore, surfaced on the land of a different crowd, culture, language, where the existence of things seen on a distant beach and their non-existence are inconsequential that their profound absence reaches these people, traipsing now in the darkened alleys of this city, only to their tenebrous inner coastlines, as the raucous voices of terns and seagulls, but not further.

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Amrendra Pandey is a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, India. He received his PhD in Molecular Physics in 2015 from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India. He grew up in a small town in Uttar Pradesh and currently lives in Bangalore. You can find his poems at The Bombay Literary Magazine, VAYAVYA, The Bangalore Review, Best Indian Poetry 2018, among other venues.

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