Bharatanatyam Dancer - Poem by Sudeep Sen
(for Leela Samson)
Spaces in the electric air divide themselves
in circular rhythms, as the slender
grace of your arms and bell-tied ankles
describe a geometric topography, real, cosmic,
one that once reverberated continually in
a prescribed courtyard of an ancient temple
in South India. As your eyelids flit and flirt, and
match the subtle abhinaya in a flutter
of eye-lashes, the pupils create an
unusual focus, sight only ciliary muscles
blessed and cloaked in celestial kaajal
could possibly enact.
The raw brightness of kanjeevaram silk, of
your breath, and the nobility of antique silver
adorns you and your dance, reminding us of
the treasure chest that is only
half-exposed, disclosed just enough, barely —
for art in its purest form never reveals all.
Even after the arc lights have long faded,
the audience, now invisible, have stayed over.
Here, I can still see your pirouettes, frozen
as time-lapse exposures, feel
the murmuring shadow of an accompanist's
intricate raga in this theatre of darkness,
a darkness where oblique memories of my
quiet Kalakshetra days filter,
matching your very own of another time,
where darkness itself is sleeping light,
light that merges, reshapes, and ignites,
dancing delicately in the half-light.
But it is this sacred darkness that endures,
melting light with desire, desire that simmers
and sparks the radiance of your
quiet femininity, as the female dancer
now illuminates everything visible: clear,
poetic, passionate, and ice-pure.
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