You read tree leaves more intently than the books I buy for you on my way back from literature festivals. You decipher their gentle tremble. The way they hold the molten sun. Speak to the wind in ciphers.
a delicate fist tightens
around a dream
I don’t know how to handle a life this tender.
Soon your fingers will begin to caress a piano. Your lunar eyes will flood with the song of birds. Soon you will loop shoelaces into bunny ears.
One day you will pick up a crayon. And somewhere in the middle of an empty page, a long stretch of green will begin to kiss the horizon. There will be a yellow house and the silhouette of a solitary man walking by on a serpentine road.
Would you know where this road takes him?
I have quit embracing trees in search of poetry. I have left the city of the moon. The house of night. No longer do I lean over white picket fences — smelling wildflowers. Or walk barefoot over fresh-cut grass. I have given up the courtyards of childhood. Stopped courting Swallowtails. Sparrows. Sea Lions. My nib no longer kisses moths kissing the flaming tongue of a clay lamp. The ink no longer clouds. Or rains over the page. I have abandoned little spots of sunshine on the surface of lakes. And I do not wish to board the ships setting sail to phantom islands.
in the song of a falling leaf a fallen leaf
An Evening with Ptolemy
After dinner, he moves out to the balcony. I follow him three steps behind. Tumblers of cheap whiskey in one hand, a carefully rolled joint in the other. The sky is on fire tonight. Dotted and crossed with stars on fire. Even the moon is on fire. And so are the chairs we sit on. I light up the joint as he traces galaxies with a marble finger. Reciting their history in parallaxes. He has spent an eternity tallying the contents of the universe. He arranges them in small mounds of flickering fires. Of tens. Hundreds. Thousands. He prefers round numbers. And geometrical shapes.
‘It was fun naming constellations. Like newborns, they squirmed and stretched in my palms as I whispered a name in their ears.’
‘You do know we have long since debunked your cosmos,’ I tell him after the third drink. I am jealous and vindictive that he gets to name constellations while I am stuck in a blue-green cubicle day in and day out. News like that would have turned another man into a helpless mess. But Ptolemy is made of sterner stuff.
‘Andromeda wasn’t happy with the name she got,’ he continues as if he couldn’t even hear me, ‘I had to sing it in twenty-four languages before she gurgled a smile.’
wandering stars . . .
Poet, artist, and editor Paresh Tiwari has been widely published, especially in the sub-genre of Japanese poetry. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in several publications, including the anthology by Sahitya Akademi, ‘Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians’ released to celebrate 200 years of Indian English Poetry. ‘Raindrops chasing Raindrops’, his second haibun collection was awarded the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award in the year 2017. Paresh has co-edited the landmark International Haibun Anthology, Red River Book of Haibun, Vol 1 which was published by Red River Publications in 2019. He is also the serving haibun editor of the online literary magazine Narrow Road.