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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2023
Bamboo Dance, poems by Gopika Nath.
Like fingers pointed downwards
green fronds are gathered in groups
of five, six, seven and more
They droop stilled, as if immortalized
by a painter’s brush
She breezes in and they nod
to each other. And settle down again
She moves swifter and stronger
And the boughs stir from their slumber
of rice-paper (sumi e) simulation
As sun dapples its hue and then refrains,
the awakened bamboo leaves dance
They sway: rising high with wafts, bending
low with grace. Shimmering and pulsating
bowing and billowing; they breathe
Days come and go with the bleakness of
stratocumulus in a million shades of
dense, mesmerizingly, melancholic grey.
Foregrounded by piercingly tall, dulled
palms, embellishing their despondency
with curving, drooping lace-like pinnate
fronds. Stilled. As if in rapt attention
to a chorus of birds unseen. Chirping,
whistling, twittering in differing keys.
Unintelligible, but possibly, the same song
in perpetual canon.
The wind breezes in from the South-west,
whispering among the leaves, then blows
in gusts. Alternatingly, lifting them up with
her velocity or pushing them down, under
their own boughs. Arrhythmically,
dispiriting and elevating. Again and again.
Nagging, coaxing, clamouring for their
The bamboo leaves, like fingers of a
hundred balletic hands, soar and wave.
Then bowing low, so low, that their stalks
might break. And, in a flurry of frenzied
desperation, they lean forward, coming
closer and closer. Green fronds reaching
out to clasp the black, painted frame of an
opened window. Then retreat, retrieving
their limbic height. Mocking the sanctuary
of my bedroom.
The stolid trunk of the Kaju has neither
the bamboo’s flexibility nor anguish. Its
whorling folioles move, as if in a contained
stupor, drunk on its own fermented Feni,
shimmying nonetheless, with the dexterity
of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.
Heightening the anticipation
of wetting, drenching, endless rain.
And then she comes. Mostly with a
thundering usher and alarming bursts
of lightening. But settles down
to a calming, whispering, reassuring
pattering-pitter. Kissing the earth until she
piddles, puddles and bleeds russet-red.
Caressing verdure until it glistens and
glows. Romancing the scud and fogginess
of gloom. Compelling a slackening grip,
that lets azure steal in and out. But,
just for a while. And then
it pours and pours.
And melancholia sticks to the bone.
If I could
what wouldn’t I do
without the writhing of
those sleepless nights
If I could
what wouldn’t I do
without the errors
of my judgement
But, if I would
perhaps it’s best
not to imagine
changing or altering
the way I stumbled over youth
For, triumphant of not sinking
with every wave
that went its own way
experience-steeped it’s been
Rich in nuance and timbre
though never enough to comfort me.
And even if I could envision a life
better than what I have breathed
I could have done better
or painted in another hue
© Gopika Nath
Gopika Nath is a textile artist-craftsman who stitches and writes, threading her syllables into poetry, creative non-fiction and art reviews, where her art practice provides a mirror to the self. Her writings have been published in Bengalaru Review, Brown Critique, Lakeview International Journal of Literature, 100 subtexts and others. A Fulbright Scholar, alumnus of Central St. Martins School of Art and Design [UK], Gopika lives and works in Goa, India. http://gopikanath.co.in/