A Lone Tree In A Cemetry

That night when you kissed me, I left a poem in your mouth, and you can hear some of the lines every time you breathe out.” ( Andrea Gibson)

I came across the poetry of Andrea Gibson by accident.It was on one of my trips and extended stays in  London.I was at this absolutely brilliant and delightful cafe called ‘Wilton Way Cafe’ in Hackney, East London (http://www.londonfieldsradio.co.uk/the-cafe/ ), waiting for my friend to arrive and irritated because he epitomizes un-punctuality.There was this 30-ish something woman of remarkable beauty sitting right across me, clothed rather shabbily and smoking endlessly.I remember the lipstick she wore. It was a startling red and her lips looked like a wound on her face.As I watched she wrote something on a piece of paper.Then she looked at it long, smiled, stubbed out her cigarette, crumpled the piece of paper and left it in her half finished cup of coffee.She then left abruptly.Her stride was so magnificent, so proud, so disdainful.The look in her eyes was of someone who has seen Heaven but prefers Hell.I was so fascinated by her that I wanted to know what she had written and very quickly picked the crumpled ball of paper from the cup. The lines quoted above were what she had written without the author’s name. I Googled and discovered Andrea Gibson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Gibson )

Since then, I have come to admire the terrible beauty of this poet’s words. Of the tremendous pathos and longing.Of the fear of hoping.

There was a beautiful Hindi movie I had watched longtime back. Its called ‘Sur’.A complex relationship between a musician and his pro·té·gée who fall in love. The quoted lines remind me of this song from that movie.Needless to say that the song is a huge favorite and when in one of her insane moods, the accidental sufi sings its pretty well 🙂 Here is the song  http://youtu.be/lFHHEp00aFA . The voice is of Mahalakshmi Iyer  who I really admire for the strength and discipline; as also a haunting sweetness.And the lyrics by Nida Fazli who I feel a camaraderie with for his fascination with Meera Bai…for that is how love should be.It is he who said “Hum labon se keh naa paaye, unse haal-e-dil kabhi,Aur wo samjhe nahin, ye khamoshi kya cheez hai’ ( Translation:My lips were never able to express the state of my heart,And she failed to understand what my silence meant).

 I shall bid ‘Au Revoir’ with the poetry of Andrea Gibson again 🙂

I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you.

Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.
Tell me what the word home means to you
and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name
just by the way you describe your bedroom
when you were eight.

See, I want to know the first time you felt the weight of hate,
and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.

Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain
or bounce in the bellies of snow?
And if you were to build a snowman,
would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms
or would leave your snowman armless
for the sake of being harmless to the tree?
And if you would,
would you notice how that tree weeps for you
because your snowman has no arms to hug you
every time you kiss him on the cheek?

Do you kiss your friends on the cheek?
Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad
even if it makes your lover mad?
Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion
or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?

See, I wanna know what you think of your first name,
and if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy
when she spoke it for the very first time.

I want you to tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.
Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.
Tell me, knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old
beating up little boys at school.

If you were walking by a chemical plant
where smokestacks were filling the sky with dark black clouds
would you holler “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud
or would you whisper
“That cloud looks like a fish,
and that cloud looks like a fairy!”

Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin?
Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea?
And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me —
how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?

See, I wanna know if you believe in any god
or if you believe in many gods
or better yet
what gods believe in you.
And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself,
have the prayers you asked come true?
And if they didn’t, did you feel denied?
And if you felt denied,
denied by who?

I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty
could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.

If you ever reach enlightenment
will you remember how to laugh?

Have you ever been a song?
Would you think less of me
if I told you I’ve lived my entire life a little off-key?
And I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry
I just plagiarize the thoughts of the people around me
who have learned the wisdom of silence.

Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence?
And if you do —
I want you to tell me of a meadow
where my skateboard will soar.

See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.
I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,
and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.
I wanna know if you bleed sometimes
from other people’s wounds,
and if you dream sometimes
that this life is just a balloon —
that if you wanted to, you could pop,
but you never would
‘cause you’d never want it to stop.

If a tree fell in the forest
and you were the only one there to hear —
if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,
would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,
or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?

And lastly, let me ask you this:

If you and I went for a walk
and the entire walk, we didn’t talk —
do you think eventually, we’d… kiss?

No, wait.
That’s asking too much —
after all,
this is only our first date”


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