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May 15, 2017 | by  | in Poetry |
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This Generous Time

Out of the blue, Bibhu Padhi, a distinguished poet from India, sent us some of his unpublished work. Padhi suffered from a migraine for 44 years; it stopped last year, but during one particularly bad attack in December 1974 he took three anti-pain tablets on an empty stomach and had to go to hospital. It was after witnessing five people die from his hospital bed that he came to poetry:

It seemed as if everyone was dying. When I came back home, I decided to write two poems, each based on two deaths. One of the dead was a young boy who died of kidney failure; the other one — quite young, and married — died of cancer.

Since this beginning, Padhi’s expanded to many other topics and published his poetry in multiple publications (including The New Criterion and Indian Review) and put out eleven collections of poetry. We asked him about his experiences, how a poem becomes a poem:

I always look forward to the first line. It takes about a week to arrive. Once that is done, I let the first line stay in my head for another week or so. Finally I choose to write the poem. Once the first line has come, the next lines come slowly and gently.

It is very difficult to write a good love poem without being sentimental at the same time. As far as my treatment of love goes, most of my love poems hardly describe a woman’s body. They could be called “spiritual.” There are other kinds of love poems though. My love for my grandmother, the hungry children in Ethiopia, the imaginary daughter. I do not have a daughter — only two sons.

 

A FALLING IN LOVE

 

For a long time I haven’t loved myself,

this body and all that it calls mine,

all that has risen in time.

 

I have only struggled to come to terms

with all that belongs elsewhere,

all that was never mine.

 

Years have passed in the darkness

of a world that had lost itself

among words and incoherence.

 

There have been lovers in plenty —

girls who knew well how to

use things and cleverness.

 

There have been too many thoughts

to comply with, or none at all;

the sleeping bed knows how.

 

But today, at this quiet hour of intimacy,

I realise how beautiful the body can be,

how real the eyes, what it does not find.

 

The soul’s prayer to be ever with it,

the mind’s easy games, a secret wind’s

loving pressure on the skin.

 

There are other affections too, other wishes

that generate energy and life, far from

neuralgia, migraine and a reasonless lethargy.

 

I guess, this body is fine as it is and I need not

ask for more than it needs, more than

just life’s happy residency.

 

Let money grow on trees, the rich prosper

enough to turn into gods, but please, let me

stay here, with this body, this generous time.

 

 

AGAIN, LOVE

 

The taste of last evening’s sadness

is still in the mouth.

 

A sadness of love, its absences,

the world’s reluctance

to take notice of it.

 

All those who I thought were mine,

are busy finding their own

explanations, fluent like

 

their own past, as if they knew

all that was going to happen.

 

As it was yesterday, I am all heart,

inarticulate in its efforts

 

to say something that might matter

in some distant future.

 

As always, love is elsewhere, at some

gloomy station of this vastness

 

that is supposed to be my lot,

waiting to be noticed, taken care of.

 

And I am so far away, so much lost

to myself, I don’t even know

where it waits.

 

Perhaps I should soon be leaving

this place, which I call mine.

Love is dying.

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