Born in Edinburgh in 1944, Jane Bhandari has lived in India for 40 years
and is a writer and occasional painter. She co-ordinates 'Loquations', a
Mumbai poetry reading group, and has authored two volumes of poetry,
Single Bed, and Aquarius. She has also written two collections of short
stories for children, The Round Square Chapatti and The Long Thin Jungle.
A third collection of poems and a novel are in progress.
The globes are lined up on the sill
To catch the morning sun: one
Of lapis, speckled with a universe
Of gold flecks, another full of moonlit clouds.
The clock in a glass and silver ball,
Holds stopped time in its dead embrace,
While the dandelion clock's fragile sphere
Is caught in acrylic, time trapped forever.
A crystal paperweight reflects in its globe
A minute world up-side-down,
Of buildings, sea, and sky in its clarity:
And last, the green glass fishing float
Bending the same buildings, sea, and sky,
Right way up, but curved, warped, and amazing.
The sun warms them: they shine and vibrate,
Distort time and vision, change my world.
Bits of Paper
(An Outdoor Reading)
A wind blew up
And the books on the table
Began to fly open,
Scattering the markers,
Bits of torn newspaper,
The ghosts of dismembered words.
One by one the reader opened the books;
As he read, the markers blew away
Until the grass was littered
With the snow of readings,
A shower of marked places,
And the corpses of poems
Read, discussed, and done with
Flew up and fluttered in the wind.
As the evening darkened
And the lights came on,
Moths emerged and fluttered
Among the flying papers,
And I could not tell
Which was moth, which paper,
Which living insect, and which
The ghosts of poems
Flying on the night air.
And the wind came up, and blew
The books open again: the pages
And all the unread poems
Flew out into the dark.
That dip in the land conceals,
Encloses, a woman-like secret:
Walking towards it,
Trees suddenly appear,
Folded into and enclosed
By the thighs of the ground,
The little fuzz of leaves
Hinting at the hidden surprise.
I scramble down the slope,
And suddenly, as the wood appears,
I am within it, have penetrated
That innermost recess
Where the stream flows from the ground
Within the dark shadow of the trees,
Held, and yet released, by their roots.
Emerging, it is as if I have been born,
And the wood has left a caul upon me
Of twigs, leaves, bits of grass in my hair,
And delivered me to the open fields.
One fence away, I could not see
Beyond the little fold in the ground,
How deep and secret was that wood,
Nor how small and fluent the stream.
Canopied by the venetian blue bowl of sky,
All that day they lay in the tall grass.
and played the grownup game of sex.
Stitchwort stars floated serenely
in a green universe.
Great chiffon scarves of bluebells
lay softly on every slope.
A skydiving lark was on its way up,
singing: bees hummed sensuously.
The smell of love was wild garlic,
the raw sex smell of new-mown hay,
the smooth powdery scent of may-flowers.
And he smelt warm, childlike, milky,
the boy-man and his girl, in the grass.
I have not forgotten
the sharp certainties of my youth.
If I smell him again, I will know him.
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