Kasbewa Tank ii

Kesbawa Lake ii

The retreat is situated near a lake that is man made
We arrive in the evening, the sun softly shimmering
The crows take off from the trees
Surrounding us and baulk, screeching into the
twilight, the smaller ones are nervous
We can tell–can they tell–that we are nervous, too?

But not about the crows. About the retreat.
And the disorder that we have,
Although Viren is miles behind me as
He stays off the medication.
I have been on it since May 2015 and
it has changed me in subtle ways.

We are massaged daily. Then
Left to do as will, in our rooms.
the garden or stroll around the lake
Oh, how small our world gets,
So small that I am compelled to
listen to podcasts
From far away and hear
Michael been interviewed.

The lady of the retreat
Wears a redda and hatte
She is concerned about our food,
which is good enough
But much better when we order
Pol sambal, kade paan, dhal curry, marmite,
An omelet SRI LANKAN style.
We sigh in pleasure.

I walk around the lake in the morning
There are a few walkers and joggers on the trail,
It’s clean and peaceful country living
the light- Crystal clear and soft-
a variety of trees, the familiar:
Coconut, Palmyra, Jak, Mango
The incessant sounds of bird calls– a cacophony–
of which Vernon would be able to identify, I can’t,

Strung between two trees are the whitest clothes
A dress, 2 sarongs, a skirt, some dishtowels,
a pair of shorts. I am wishing I had my phone so
I could photograph it. to make a postcard.
Black and white and red all over.

I break into a jog and look over
At the lake, the lotuses in full bloom.
I spot a man boating on a tire
He uses a short paddle and has a bunch of
rags tied on the tire which reminds me of the bundles
Dhobis used to carry.
He looks like he is about to light a pipe.

But he is boating so he can clean the lake.
I am hoping I’ll get clean, too.
At this gentle retreat where they
look after you the traditional way
Using plants and herbs, oils and massage.
Softly coaxing self – healing. I pray.

When your body starts to give

The art of ageing
Is to keep moving
Keep the blood flowing
The skin glowing
The hair bouncy
The teeth gleaming
The nails polished and shining
The muscles toned
The brain occupied and stimulated
Keep challenging yourself
Do what needs to be done
Cross things off your list
Love a lot, help a lot
Buy a lot, give a lot
Bake, make, play, create
Don’t be tempted by fate
Travel long distances
Take photographs and draw
Doodle the days away
When you feel your life
Is going astray
When you are sick
Meditate-go on a retreat
Be silent for awhile
Maybe 7 days maybe 10
How refreshing, then
To come back to earth
And hover above
the crowd
Frolic, drink, be merry
For tomorrow, you may perish
Ageing is relative we are all going
To die. How we go is what’s important
Go without a whimper or cry.
Go with love and all of life’s blessings.
Go in peace Go with love.

GRANDFATHER

Road Trip

Short days in Michigan
the leaves turn
colours similar to the ones
in that far away island during the
dry season — the red earth
hot underfoot — crackles
as the leaves drop
making a mound
Smoothies drunk in a café
contain this richness of
colour.
The liquid slides down
the throat and a coat is buttoned
Outside the air freezes
Smoke blows from the mouth
Cigarette tossed on the ground

The old man mowing his lawn
Wearing his slate cashmere V-neck with
holes under the arms, has never bothered
to get the thing darned.
It is the season to shoot
Gun in hand, A-k47 in another
Looking for Rabbit, Deer, Bear.
Somewhere a man is shot
Billy wears a brown, round, wool neck sweater
that keeps him warm.
and camouflages him well.
No-one mentions the time he was at
The creek – a body floated up, face down –
bloated and gross from
being in the river for over a week.
The sheriff hushed It up,
Billy was his son, you see.

The man was someone’s son too.
remains cried over by mothers
Of son’s they can’t recognise
The Sheriff wore a red wool sweater
beautiful to look at; a man with manners
The County respected him.
The sole reason the body story was
Buried. His word was final.
The army commander’s word
Was final, too. No identification, woman.
We bury them all together

Autumn in Michigan, meant road trips—-a six pack of
Molson in the car– Ruben sandwiches, girlfriends.
We’d sing to Joni Mitchell and Carol King—
perfect tunes for a fall sunset
that seemed to last forever. At night, Deborah Harry
blasted from the CD deck the stars shining brightly.
Autumn in Sri Lanka meant the north east monsoon
We hit the road a case of Heineken in the jeep
Vernon driving east stopping at all the security
Check points. Men with guns probing
Ethnicity an issue and the case of beer slowly emptied
By us, thirst parched and scorched
The dry zone beckoned.
The landscape: endless, stark, beautiful,

Murugan’s country like no other.
the sun set’s in the west
stopping every 100 meters looking for
elephant, deer, bird life of all description
army blowing hot. ID, please
Red brown yellow orange
cocooned us as night fell
yet, the incessant stopping.
Petrol was running out
Finally, over the bridge to the Bay.
We drove right up to the the beach
Full moon directly above in the sky
We could almost smell it.
Off came our sticky clothes,
To dive into the warm Indian ocean
It was midnight 16 hours later
The seduction was dazzling
The salt water melted off our bodies
The beer, finished

We did not need the moon or headlights to show us the way.

she wore her purple sweater, made of Angora.
It smelled of perfume: Opium.
At Last, San Francisco
We drove to Full Moon Beach.
Threw our sweater’s off
And with it our youthful emotional angst
The water was cold.
We could very well had been swimming in
Lake Michigan—
Except for the unforgettable Road Trip.
2261 miles of it.

words of wisdom from a wise woman

listen to your body. i don’t mean that as a recommendation to say or not say something, i mean it quite literally. you said your body is trying to tell you something. so listen. for now, that’s all you have to do. find a quiet place once a day, sit comfortably and turn your focus on your body, the feelings that arise, where they are located, how they feel, what sensations they bring, whether the feeling(s) shifts. just that. when you get into your head, remember to just go back into your body. breathe into any pain or discomfort you find, cry if that’s what comes, take note but don’t dwell on any thoughts that come up. then, in real time, when you start feeling anxious or whatever it is you feel–off to the loo or wherever you can hide to sit with it alone for a few minutes in your body, not your head. breathe into the feeling and let it express itself in your body. let it express itself, it’s probably old suppressed stuff that just needs to be felt, that is demanding to be felt, to be released. 

i think sometimes we think doing is an answer to how we are feeling. at least that’s my own personal misconception. i think feeling is the answer to how we are feeling though. not that i succeed 90% of the time, but when i do, it’s a relief.

Being Brave

Bravery manifests in many guises. John was tired of fighting–he was assigned to the front line–and was terrified. But, like all his comrades, he put up a brave front. Besides, he would never let his side down, by playing the coward. He wanted respect and men in the front usually got it. It’s basic, the respect, that is. So was the fear. He had enough; he was drafted, he had no choice so here he was, some people in his platoon still left, and all he could think of was he going to be next? It was dark, he had no idea where he was and didn’t dare to light a match. The smell of decomposing flesh was nauseating. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum. He unwrapped the wrapper and carefully folded it into the smallest possible design he could and put it back in his pocket. Sort of like  a keepsake. Something to remember this moment by.  He was chewing the gum when he heard  rounds of fire coming from the north: enemy direction. He hit the ground the same time that his buddy was hit. The firing stopped. He felt icy cold and the deafening silence was unreal. It was then he noticed that everyone around him had been shot and he was completely an utterly alone. The illumination in the sky was sufficient to show the carnage.

He put his hand in his pocket and felt for the wrigleys spearmint wrapper that he had folded umpteen times. He felt secure by the touch of it, a moment of normalcy in what was an insane situation*. War sucks. His dreams of coming back a hero, medalled, to show off to his family, friends, girlfriend was insignificant. What was he supposed to do now? He rubbed the wrapper between his thumb and forefinger; thinking, thinking. In shock and, not a soul in site. The quiet was relentless.

So he did what any brave men would have done. He took his rifle, stuck it into his mouth and blew his brains out. The last thing he remembered before pulling the trigger was swallowing the piece of paper.

—————————————————–

Endless Preoccupation

fascination comes apart
when lovers meet
where do they start
missed phone calls
unread texts
forget the bullshit
snooker the rest

games played
only one
what is left
is the noonday sun.
drunken glasses
evening’s come
forget the masses
where is the fun?

sleepless nights
naked in bed
tossing and turning
politics unfed
desire vanishes
struggles to remain
what once was
is no one’s gain

Dream House

She worked with architects and saw many houses. First, it was in the looking and in the answering of a question thrown here or there by the lead architect of the group. She wasn’t quite taken with the houses she saw- and once in a while she was stumped by a question asked of her. “What makes the acoustics so good in this house?’? Why don’t the stairs have a bannister to hold onto? She thought she knew the answers to the questions, but wasn’t ready to answer—there was something in each question that she questioned. For instance; “why wasn’t there a bannister for the stairs? She could not (yet) understand why an architect would forego practicality and safety for beauty of line and aesthetics. She mentioned that to the head architect, who erroneously told her she was stupid and if she was going to question a left out bannister, she was nowhere ready to become an architect! She took umbrage to that and decided to leave his apprentice and apply to join another. He was angry, or rather his ego was hurt, that he let her go without writing a recommendation. She left, and in a week, she was snapped up by her former bosses rival architectural practice. That very day after a breakfast meeting of coffee (delivered from Kopi Kade) and donuts: glazed, sugared and in a multitude of colours) he told his students that he was taking them to visit some houses that he had designed along with his partner. Standard practice she thought and on her very first day as well. They drove down the streets of Colombo, until they were in Colombo 3. The driver turned right on Damien place and pulled over to the right halfway down the street. That was the defining moment when Julie saw her dream house. She could tell by the quake in her knees, the butterflies at the pit of her stomach and the goose pimples all over her body. She got out of the car and closed the door and walked slowly to the front door.