Three poems from Romi Jain, a published poet, novelist, and vice president of the Indian Journal of Asian Affairs.
The scribbled bits of paper swirled in a storm and littered a black carpet:
the ashes in a nude forest, interspersed with dry hails.
The upturned edges made a futile exercise to understand the thoughts
that lay unknown, until scooped out for the exclusive reader—me.
“Have this diary then… brand new, and keep it safely after treasuring:
(said a friend)
the effervescence that keeps one awake with the dream of a lover,
the glorious moments of discovering an unsaid message,
the words that pinch the soul and squeeze out the venom,
the embarrassing narratives of encounters with people and peaches on roads,
and, of course, numerous passwords.”
But I doubted the utility of my thoughts
before the miniature of the museum of paintings:
The silvery entrance printed with a sunrise in countryside at lake
with beaded, braided velvet dangling through the hinge;
the two hundred vanilla-scented pages featured at top right:
The Hay Wain, Kindred Spirits, Lilacs in a Vase, The Raft of the Medusa,
Storm on the Sea of Galilee, and what not, and the messages about life
complementing each, in a golden calligraphy, such as:
“Take a plunge in this sunset and spread over the firmament (a soldier’s sacrifice)
and inject out with the rays at dawn (your life a gift to those in darkness)” ;
And printed underneath the floral white baskets to treasure flowers of the mind.
Twenty years have passed.
The virgin diary looks on through a glass shelf. Bits of paper lie around,
How exhilarating to set eyes on shiny artilleries
when orgies innervate the mind to strip the foe of glory
How thrilling to see the lords slicing the waters
to demolish with torpedoes the eye sores
How uplifting for a chest seething with vengeance,
to see jets soar with a promise of ravage.
Sense the trepidation of the sea that doubts its capacity
to hold vestiges
and abhors a graveyard,
and wishes the earth, to be spared of as well
Which decries the wicked plots in its womb
when landmines supplant the saplings,
While the sky bemoans its dumbness and the heart swelling with secrets.
Silently somewhere condolences set in:
the earth offers green leaves,
the sky soft rains,
the sea offers to wash away blood and venom.
3. Mount St. Helens Speaks
“That mysterious beauty lulled residents into sleep,
drinking from Spirit Lake in quiet darkness.
The morn coincided with a devastating yawn in 1980—
The yawn that would have suggested
an ingenuous opening, at dawn, of a pink orifice of a fair lass:
the yawn that doesn’t make history
but meets instant death leaving some rapture in trail.
But that was an outlet to demonic magma.
The fierce fountain assaulted the sky,
ash and steam striking in deep.
Beauty, we couldn’t see through your calmness,
simmered what insidious rage?”
The world lashes with words.
Ghosts roam galore.
A dense forest searches for its gems,
drilling my lacerated soul.
Homes that vanished and humans that perished
sing the gory songs
that I in solitude with dread hear, and sink in remorse.
The broken bridges wildly swing,
the dead rails blow deafening whistles.
Flattened cars pass by ferociously
on the ripped off highways
that wail at night, and fall like flakes in day.
Would someone hear my rumblings
and differentiate my wails from the whims
of that unpredicted someone that holds my destiny
and rewards me with the bruises by letting the wild wolves out?
I brood over the hills that craved my chiseled nose.
I’m no more Fuji-san of America,
nor does snow enjoy resting in a crater,
nor would a thought of a golden fill make me turn indifferent
And the debris avalanche—the vestiges of my doomsday—
has sealed my efforts to forget my past.
Note: * Written in the context of the 1980 volcanic eruption. Spirit Lake is a lake north of Mt. St. Helens. Mt. St. Helens used to be called “Fuji-san of America.”
Romi Jain is a published poet, novelist, and Vice President of the Indian Journal of Asian Affairs. She did her MBA from San Francisco, California, and has worked as a marketing professional with a Silicon Valley-based company. Her creative works include: The Storm Within (2008; 2011), Poetry! You Resurrect Me (2011) and Voices of Rocks in the Dusk (2012). Her poems have appeared in international anthologies and in literary journals such as Off the Coast; Touch: The Journal of Healing; The Journal of Poetry Society; Aquill Relle Magazine; Munyori Literary Journal; and The Tower Journal. Read other articles by Romi.