Posted tagged ‘Meredith Martin photo’

On a Trip Once

April 27, 2013


On a Trip Once

Increasingly, I don’t believe in ecstatic experience–
to me, there is ecstasy
and there is experience;
ecstasy that bit where you feel
the wonder of your connection with all
beingness–the velvet purr
of digging your fingers
through a time-mulched fern-feeding log,
and experience–when you understand,
hungover and with bug bites fisting
your wrists, that you too will swell
and rot, your particular beingness decay, bones

Still, certain moments well,
sparkles on a stream, for no reason–random sun–
I stand in one, on a concrete step
before a white-knobbed sink, which in turn fronts an open window
in the Majestic Tea Room, Mumbai–
Bombay then, and hardly majestic–
though high-ceilinged and robins-egg, the pale blue
blurred by warmth and fans and waiters with their beautiful
dark-hollowed faces, long-fingered
hands–and, just outside the window
and on his own concrete dais,
sits a pan seller, his betel nut grated in small tins, and in a larger can, a soak
of green serving leaves, as tensile
as young skin, and wafting up, not the smells
of the street, or worse of side walls sometimes in India, but the sweet scent of his
rose chutney, and I wish never
to stop washing my hands, not because they feel grimed, but because the sublime
is hard to find, and somehow it is here–was there–
flickering along the wilt of peeled window frame and in the searching fragrance of
jellied rose, the ecstasy of the quotidian caught
in the trappings of the exotic, there, on that sink’s step, no longer concrete
but like the peated log, something mind sifts,
wonders at, tries to connect.

Here’s a sort of a poem for my Poetics prompt on “a trip” on dVerse Poets Pub. I’m hosting today and would love to see you.

The above photo is by Meredith Martin (my older daughter). It doesn’t really have anything to do with the poem–a pan seller is a person!– but I think it’s a fun picture of India.

Process notes–“pan” is a concoction made sometimes with betel nut, sometimes without. It includes various spices, like fennel, and a sweet rose chutney (made from the flower), all wrapped in an edible green leaf, forming a small stuffed triangle. The pan sellers in India used to make each pan by hand, sitting on street corners or in little booths with an array of spices and tins. Nowadays, a lot of the pan seems to be packaged.  (The poem above should probably be made into two very separate poems some time!  But this is how it came out for now.  It has been edited since first posting.)