Laura J Braverman – Darshana

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Laura Johanna Braverman is a writer and artist. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Plume, Levure Litteraire, Sky Island Journal, New Plains Review and in the anthology Awake in the World, Volume II by Riverfeet Press. Salt Water, her first collection of poetry was published in 2019 by Cosmographia Books. She is pursuing her MA degree in Poetry at Lancaster University, and lives in Lebanon with her family.

1   Flower Girls    

Two young girls sit on concrete blocks,
caged by interweaving city streets—

my car’s right-turn signal ticks
while the open window invites a voice.

One girl sings with long drawn tones,
they vibrate low in her narrow throat—

she stares out, spell-bound somehow,
her hennaed hair is loosely braided.

The smaller girl kicks off a boot, no sock
on underneath; shakes it for a stone perhaps.

Soon the light will change—if I keep
east on this road two hours so I’ll reach

Damascus, City of Jasmine, named
for those tiny petals of too much honey—

2   Darshana

It is a meeting, something shared—
if you stay quiet (if you are lucky)
a doe will give you darshan
in the woodland hush, will raise her

slender neck, her head to grant you
witness. Stay still and wait. Soon
the wind will lift—a shift, a spring,
and only trees remain. Or perhaps

the clouds will part as you look up—
reveal the massif face lit up by sun.
Maybe a humble culver will flutter

to the windowsill—linger there, while
its five-beat coo joins nearby school
yard shrieks, the hum of city streets—

3   Still Life

We’ve fallen back. Daylight saving time
is ended. Strange the one-hour change, how
it alters the day; at four forty-five
night arrives, a stunted dusky afternoon.

I amble to our local market, storefronts
throw electric auras onto sidewalks—
and as I pass the Pharmacie du Quartier
I nearly miss a man planted by a skinny

city tree. His knees are raised, head bent
and heavy over folded arms. Is he sleeping?
Unwell? He doesn’t move. The street is quiet

save for an intermittent car. Another man
stands by, a sentinel. I wait too; don’t know
for what. We three are frozen—joined.

4   What’s Abandoned 

Our rented bus plots a clumsy path
through tight Milanese streets, the lady
lake our goal. Here for the birthday
of the patriarch, three generations
chatter, then someone shouts: We’re
one bag short! The driver informed
we slow towards an open curb—I see
a man stand sidewalk-bound, married
to a construction sign: black shovel
graphic on a triangle of marigold—
his trousers shine with use and grime,
the high-top tongues of his shoes
lie flat, his gaze is fixed as people pass.
The bus turns back for the forgotten bag.

5   Now We See Face To Face 

Who or what do the eyes receive?
A saint, a mountain peak—
Your household god, the blackbird
perched in a ficus tree?

Dirt-smudged toes of a child’s
eager exploration, da Vinci’s Mary
of gentle mystics? The prayer

of seeing is given and received—
no need to take up temple rites.
Is it a gift: beholder to beheld?

Maybe the reverse is true. Mother
of our tongues, made from universal
thrums, says darśana  is a vision,
yes, but also vision’s method—

6   What’s Borrowed

Builders gather at the site next door.
The metal clangs and high-pitched
whirs narrate my working hours—
though today something feels askew.
In dusty clothes and heavy shoes—
the men, migrant workers from our
warring neighbor, glance and shift,
restless in their group. Why is that?

As the circle widens, I see a body
draped across a net of arms. I hear
mingled exhortations, scrapes of rock
under boot. The body’s limbs hang
loose, emptied of decision—what
was there, interrupted or replaced.

© Laura J Braverman