"If you were a stranger to our rains": Four poems by Soni Somarajan

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"If you were a stranger to our rains": Four poems by Soni Somarajan

Poetry by Soni Somarajan

In Amma's Arms

Manjadithara, Puthupally, 1973

Where rains reign, and fruit trees
perfume the air, there is the wonder of life.
It shows in how we look at each other, a language
ripening every year when monsoon checks in.

She looks dazed by what she holds; this life
has asked her—so very easily, to be what no mother's
ready for, to serve its plan, as many times before,
promising her that it's the future she holds.

If you were a stranger to our rains, seemingly infinite,
you'd first watch it lash on, then grow
impatient as it sings from a bottomless throat,

while you might wonder, like my mother,
about having to stay home forever.

***

Studio

Manjadithara, Puthupally, 1973

The father, the soldier, sought a picture:
far away, he missed the new arrival.
The infant is stunned by life—
and the grim reality of Farex.

Even if life's no more black and white,
the facts continue to stun.
What eyes unfocused saw—a fabric of sights,
later diffused into memory.

Though time sweeps its palm across,
effacing the known, a closer look says:
the baby lives on, deep within,
its gibberish disguised as an inner voice.

Still fighting what everyone thinks is good
for him, the glazed eyes search for
his mother, who's outside the frame,
the arms beginning to stretch

and reach out to me across time.

***

Osman Sagar Lake

Hyderabad, 1978

Years later, the lake far below returns to memory,
sparked by a picture of the Pharos of Alexandria,
a search for the seven wonders.

At the world's top, an unmistakable wind romped;
my shirt billowing, the Bruce Lee-style
hair cavorting with my surveying eyes.

The water a stunning pea-green, the Deccan sun
and the breeze competing: I’m sweating one instant, cooling
down the next. I roam off chasing

dragonflies—those iridescent helicopters,
hovering in fits and starts, my contrived flycatcher
snaring them mid-flight.

But soon, I'm called away to where everyone is,
a picnic we will preserve images of.
Examined four decades on, in monochrome—

a five-year-old with his two-year-old sister,
cradled in laps, on a hillside of grass with wildflowers,
a sleight of glass summoning paradise on earth.

***

Far End of the Field

Kiran R&SS, Air Force Academy, 1979

At the airfield's far end, men in grimy khaki overalls
huddle over a silver-painted jet.

Under the April sun, a swirling mirage; engines
roar in a jet-wash of thrust.

In that spectacle so carefully lit, dragonflies
flit about drunken, wings catching the sun,

the spangled air taking drunken steps to a
faint melody. The airmen snuff out

the world with ear-muffs, one of them my father,
servicing the jet before its sortie.

From where I am, I wonder if he has any thoughts
of me, that steely aloofness he sports

when engrossed in work. For now, I suppose he
forgets not his promise of lunch (pulao and chicken curry)

at the SNCO's Mess with its plush settees.

***

Soni Somarajan is a poet, copywriter, editor, and content consultant. His poetry and writing have featured in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers including Muse India, North East Review, Kitaab, The Bangalore Review, New Indian Express, Marie Claire, The Four Quarters Magazine, The Alipore Post, and is forthcoming in The Bombay Literary Magazine. An alumnus of the University of Iowa’s IWP Advanced Poetry Seminar 2013, Soni is the Creative Head at The Quarantine Train, a poetry collective. First Contact, his debut collection of poetry, has been published by Red River in 2020. He lives in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

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