Tanka Prose and Haibun by Kala Ramesh

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Tanka Prose and Haibun by Kala Ramesh

Poetry by Kala Ramesh

Tracing River Kaveri

By night the river is a mirror, reflecting not just the boulders at the water's edge but the gibbous moon as well.

Next morning I'm back, just as the sun is rising on the far horizon. I assumed she would be a mirror again reflecting the seamless sky, but her mood is different, for I see, a vibrant river flowing to become one with the sea.

It's mid-morning and she becomes one gurgling, singing river, showing her fullness like a woman who has just discovered her womanhood. But the sea is far, far away and before she reaches it she's heading for a fall, at Hogenakkal. We reach this waterfall by evening. There's an old tea shop and the chaiwala is busy. I wait. He asks if I want some masala chai. I tell him that the one thing I want to know is the meaning of Hogenakkal. I want to know from someone living in this area. He smiles, handing me his spiced tea.

The word Hogenakkal, he says, is formed of two Kannada words - hoge and kal. When the river water falls on the rocks it appears as if hoge, smoke, is emanating from the rocks, hence Hogenakkal - smoking rocks.

the crowing
of a rooster at dawn
awakens me ...
what conversations I had
with the moon last night


Middle of the Night

A book about Ramana Maharshi tells me that the saint used to get up at 3 am to work in the kitchen. Many of his students and co-travellers on the spiritual path, would help him at this hour of the morning because they enjoyed his silent company: no questions, no clarifications, just simple, silent work. They all benefited from his silence in those hours. The Buddha, too, woke up early, and they say he was aware even in deep sleep — there was no change in his awareness between sleep and waking hours.

I'm wondering if, as we get older, we lose the art of sleeping and then convince ourselves that sleeping fewer hours is a good thing? Maybe Ramana Maharshi and The Buddha suffered from insomnia …?

I just learned that certain fish cannot sleep for more than six minutes at a stretch. If they sleep longer, they die, because they forget to breathe. They always live in a group, so that they wake each other up.

the earth
snuggled in time and space ...
my racing pulse


Poet, editor, anthologist, festival director, Kala Ramesh’s initiatives culminated in founding ‘INhaiku' to bring Indian haikai poets together in 2013. She has been a dedicated and foremost advocate of haiku and allied Japanese poetry forms including tanka, haibun and renku in India. Her book of haiku and haibun, Beyond the Horizon Beyond was declared a finalist in the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2019, and received a certificate for ‘excellent contribution to literature’. Her next book of tanka, tanka prose and tanka dohe: The Forest I Know has been picked up by HarperCollins for publication in July 2021.

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