Friday, 23 February 2018

Rembrandt's shadow (I came here to tell you)

From the desk of Vitasta Raina
Time Irrelevant

Rembrandt's shadow
runs across my face.
He who died in dry-point
in the focal length of poverty's mirror
and was resurrected from a bed of cold ignominy
and thrust on walls in museums and t-shirt stores in Tokyo.
Celebrated, a prophet of good families and empathy,
seer of humanity languishing, soaked in turpentine
and fancy dress.
Dark faces, horrors frozen in
triangles and diamonds, bags under eyes,
and over application and wine and the evidence of time.
Pink things, in summer cascade
lawns and ruins and the stockyard.
Women, naked and feathered,
the velvet curtains drawn
across their breasts and on their
chins and buttocks to leave out
the details, of petals and wind
and the death of peacocks in winter's
spring mind.

These savages! These ruthless
cunts! These makers of animal sins in
Bosch's impossible gardens, these brooding
print-makers of love and godly
angels that speak of hell and versatility and progress.
Known to the world through first names
and studying elephants and adultery,
and the coming of invasions and the army of art!
What happened in the 1650s, in the asylum,
in the secret concubinage of the
whore mother, in thievery and in consumption,
that consumed all too many,
that old poet killing disease,
the dream cycle.

Let's form a guild!
And let us wait for the destruction of denominations,
and fresh faced folks of period dramas
from Gorakhpur and from childhood,
plucked in the tender lovesick buds
of pubscent wet dreams and the cultivated tyranny
of war and reservations and the renaissance
and the variable exchange rates of the RBI,
the usurper of hope, the eater of cattle like fat cows and fat civil machines,
servants with a pocket watch and a gunny bag, and a degree in social economy,
coming over in a procession with the secret
society of D.Trump worshipers and boycott salesmen,
smuggling and blanketing and spending jail time shaking,
and returning covered in the illumination of 4th century
Indian poetry and mathematics and floral candles and Kashmir,
in lines, and in the flesh trades and on lorries,
screaming into glory blue loudspeakers,
a massless sea of faces, faces, faces,
noisy, barking, throwing tiffin boxes from
fifty-second storey windows into holy streams
of human history.

I came here today to tell you
that Rembrandt's shadow runs
across my face, and across the vastitude of men,
and across the biscuit factory in Bhandup,
and across the court mandated dietary restrictions
and ayurveda, and over the cigarette smoking, distressed jean wearing
mall-time hipsters in NOIDA and Bengaluru.
I came here to tell you of the Abduction of Europa,
and the East India Company,
and the Rape of Ganymede.
I came to here tell you that I weep at night,
for my home, and for my people, for my sons and my mothers
and for the gutters of Mumbai's
busy Streets.

I came here armed with Shelley and Auden,
and Lou Reed,
I came here in clean syringes and in hairsprays,
through emergency exit doors and in the evening sky.
I came here to tell you that madness exists
and balance, and oblivion and the frigid
silence of truth also exists,
in the shadowy courtyards of reason.
I came here today to tell you,
that I can hear you,
through the etchings and the intimate eyes
in picture frames and in the dusky corners
of space that has no boundaries.

I came here to tell you,
that poetry exists.


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