‘G is for’ and other poems

Vasvi Kejriwal

2022

Introduction

G is for … good! In an age of superlatives, how refreshing to read poems that speak calmly, quietly, holding inside their translucent skins the kernel that is the thought.

Vasvi Kejriwal’s ‘G is for…’ series reminds me of a sequence of definition-poems from my first-ever poetry book. I had called it ‘Trying to describe’ and, in that tentative title, the older-me spots the shape of a poet coming slowly towards self-definition. What I loved about Vasvi’s sequence is how delicately they oppose our ideas of the definite. What she leaves out is as eloquent as what she puts in. From ‘gum’ to ‘gravity’, ‘grace’ to ‘Goliath’ she elides our expectations so unassumingly, you only realise it in the soft aftermath. And then begins a glorious game between poet and reader—of seeing where this lexicon might loop next. Enjoy it, as I did, for achieving lightness on heavy topics, for juice, and breath, and husk.

The shell then is the thing. Protective, fragile, as words. Here too, an inescapable memory —stuck like gum!—that first poetry book with a series of ‘Object Lessons’, one on/about/around an egg. What is it about that ovoid that repeatedly draws us poets? (Imtiaz Dharker has a delicious poem which invokes the heavenly yellow of the sunny-side-up.) In Vasvi’s concrete ‘egg’ poem you will find an entire world observed and enclosed. A scene that seems to seal the viewer/voyeur into a hermetic silence, only to break into sound and light and hunger not through the tap-tap-tap of a fledgling beak, but through the practised hand of the one who wields the pan that will catch the word as it falls.

— Sampurna Chattarji
The Bombay Literary Magazine

G is for

going

Everything at any point is on its way
to somewhere. Hair through the drain.
Phenyl down the toilet bowl. A button
through its hole. The river
to its mouth. Even what seems still,

time is pushing to decay. Even what’s gone —
ashes, sifted through pores

of terracotta pots, into the Ganga. Breath
forming sound from the last time
you uttered my name — somewhere.
Atoms across the air. Your memories
to the brain.

#

grape

I pick out the ones most pregnant,
thinking you would’ve picked them.

Ready to break their waters —
big bulbous tears.

#

grown-up (i)

Auntie A’s voice: now
with your Dad gone,
you must either marry
or learn to stand on your feet.

#

ground

We will return home,
anonymous as the mud.
The womb becomes topsoil

#

grown-up (ii)

Let me grow to Dadi’s age,
(for a few seconds) while she’s here.
We’ll laugh, two girls buried
in the shrivelled husks of our bodies.

#

giraffe

Imagine hearts less rare
than kidneys — one stops,
you’ve still got left a pair.

#

grope

My lips sculpt your name
out of air. I am a bundle
of lungs excavating
a Khajuraho of shrines
devoted to your being;
I chisel away at time,
breath by breath.

#

Goliath

Ankles, like heroes,
uphold the dead weight
of my bones.

#

Galia

Piel de sapo, honeydew,
cantaloupe — always
juice dripping
down
your
chin.

#

ghost

The peepal grows
first in, then out the stone wall,
like a beautiful ghost.

#

gum

Memories stuck
like clumps of chewed Doublemint
on the underside of a desk
in an empty class.

#

gravity

My heels dig deeper into the earth.

#

grace

The last leaf, yellowed,
does a chakra bhramari
as she exits, an Odissi dancer
diving her final leap.
The trees are okay being naked
when it’s coldest.

 


 

Poem II

Contributor

Vasvi Kejriwal

Vasvi Kejriwal received her LLB from Queen Mary University London in 2019. Her work has been commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize. Vasvi’s works have appeared / forthcoming in Rattle, SWWIM Everyday, Nimrod and elsewhere.

Acknowledgements

‘G’ is for Ganpati, the God whose Hindu votaries invoke at the start of any difficult literary enterprise. Our banner image for this set of poems was also inspired by Vasvi’s lines:

| My lips sculpt your name
| out of air. I am a bundle
| of lungs excavating
| a Khajuraho of shrines
| devoted to your being;
| I chisel away at time,
| breath by breath.

The creators of Khajuraho have long turned to dust, but their gifts remain. ‘G’, then, for the gift of art. 

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