Portrait As Phoenix
What if I lived
only so I could speak of this:
of we who survive damnation.
I who on the other side of selfhood
emerged a creature infernal:
beautiful as forest fire
I who have borne the unbearable,
I who held the unspeakable
in my beak
as I tried to sing
In those years of hallucinatory dreaming
I was convinced that when you returned,
it would be in some inconceivable form.
A trick of light, a shadowless being,
a beauty so startling that mirrors
would withdraw, opaque as the winter
lakes of the northern countries.
I looked for you everywhere.
I thought you were coded in the wind,
a sunburst, a falling star, a golden deer.
My longing drawn taut as a bowstring,
I could have sighted you in any guise.
One grows watchful in the wilderness,
believes everything possible.
I would have taken you in any shape,
any apparition you arrived in, man or beast,
illusion or evidence, demon or god.
Any shape you could have come in.
If only you had come.
I remember the forest – how at
the border’s stillness I would
take its songs into my
mouth like a vow before I crossed over.
Each time, a river unscripted
but already told.
I arrive again after years of bramble,
navigatingpaths bled of the same
red earth of my bones.
This is not the dismemberment
I convulsed at the threshold in
in those long years of banishment.
I would have received any falsehood
but this I could never have imagined
– this ingress, this homecoming –
that I would run through the trail
by the light of forest moon,
a desert prodigal
offering flowers to the garden.
Read Sharanya Manivanan interview here First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India 3 poems archived/published on 12.15.2014