A Tracery Of Cloudlets - Poem by Ananta Madhavan
One evening when the season's benediction
Of rain was somewhat muted and abated,
The nimbus cloud-land seemed to fade away.
The sky sieved daylight before dusk.
The park turned lively, we strolled more briskly;
Sociable elders talked the walk, swinging their arms,
Marching proudly as if to recapture
Their long lost élan. Ladies donned the latest
Outfits of 'salwar-khameez' with a matching 'dupatta';
They chattered past the tardy with a smile or shrug;
Tiny tots, born cute, kicked balloons, pretending
They were football stars. One wizened old man
Gave away leaflets to advertise
A balm for bruised knees and egos or salvation
If only we had faith in some shrine or saint.
A strong breeze rumpled my thin white locks;
Sometimes a lady's ‘hair do' becomes ‘hair-don't'.
Her fringe curls danced in impromptu disarray.
In that sudden spurt of billowing wind,
Some tough old branches swayed, tree-tops rustled,
Upsetting small picnics on the grass.
A different sky had swept in overhead,
The sky-map was erased, and in its place
A spread of cloudlets in a mass appeared,
White and fluffy like small cushions
In a phalanx, right across the sky.
There was a mist or mystery
In this morphing pattern.
The latticed tracery of cloudlets
Is engraved in mind and memory,
As if scripted in cuneiform on rock-face,
A mist or mystery of superhuman symmetry,
So singular for each small white cushion;
Although the pattern of profuse plurality affirmed
A power beyond my faculty or fancy,
Beyond access, of our identities of
Unique existence even for the nonce
Of single lifetimes. Still we survive and surpass
The dissolution of the distinctive self.
I recall a poet-laureate's quote on Nature
Being "so careful of the type" and yet
"So careless of the single life". But I
Ambled on, marveling at the symmetry
Of arrayed cloudlets being blown away.
Beyond the separated self and its identity.
- - - - - - - January,2016
The verse I quote towards
end is from Alfred Tennyson's
Elegy for his friend, Hallam,
'In Memoriam'(1849) , Canto LVI.
A better-known quote from this
poem is 'Nature, red in tooth and claw'.
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