Catching up feels good! Here’s the last poem for the month of May – the one after which the collection is named.
– Vikram Seth
Now that the windsurfers have gone, equipped
With wine, some loquats and my manuscript,
I breathe the chilled gold of late afternoon
Along the lake-pier. The breeze ebbs. A tern
Pauses and plummets. Mallards manoeuvre through
The weedclogged creek. The hills slate into blue.
I stretch my towel out upon the pier
And read the bitter lines I once wrote here.
That was a younger self. I want to touch
His shoulder, make him smile, show him how each
Sorrow and failure that lacerates his heart
Can heal or numb itself: the limb trapped hurt
Of love; the search for what remains when we
No longer animate the geography
Of cell and sense; the unassuageable urge
For ecstasy and knowledge; parting; age.
A mockingbird begins a sunset song
Patched from the passions of five birds. I’m wrong;
That was no younger counterpart but one
Of a live clutch of egos. As I scan
My mappings of these selves – despondent, witty,
Calm and uncalm, lost in self-doubt or pity…
The courtier, soldier, scholar – I check the pieces;
All are still here, the old familiar faces
In one-to-one correspondence: words and moods.
The light has lapsed. I strip and swim towards
A wooden raft. The cool enveloping lake
Merges with all I was and am. My wake,
The wine, my breathing, the recovering stars,
Venus, bright as a plane, Jupiter. Mars,
My pulse, my vagrant selves, my poetry,
Seem here to inhere in a seamless me.