Friday, July 6, 2018

"Outside the Citadel" by Aparna Sanyal

Outside the Citadel
Aparna Sanyal  

At the valley’s edge, the citadel towers, forbidding. 
Dark, mossy cracks rain-slick, 
nestle in centuries of smoothened 
"Citadel" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
stone and pebbles, 
mortared by sweat, song and belonging.
Triumphant thunder booms, lightning cracks and 
in the cracks, we see the pore-less granite
rise into an infinite sky. 
It reaches beyond us.
It frustrates our every attempt
to scale, 
breach even a rat’s hole, seep liquefied 
into it through even miraculous capillary action. 
We are desolate, 
like millions before and billions to come, 
we want to leave the fray, 
our dreams un-summited, left in a pile 
at the gate, lit by weeping candles and 
enshrined by the jewels we’ve shed. 
But 
as we make this mixed temple of our tributes, 
a bonfire without fire lights our faces. 
It is absorbed sudden, in a flash of percipience
into our souls.
So, at the gate steps, we make our Mecca. 
Gems hewn from the mines of our souls are
the mosaic overlaying the citadel wall. 
Dolls’ processions and parades of 
phantasmagorical creatures are friezes
on mossy boulders. 
We share bowls of bone broth, blood and song,
lip to lip, ear to ear, heart to heart. 
The frost circles and jousts, goes without a touch. 
We gift light bulb stories and flickering 
rings of emotions, 
make tiaras of 
pussy-willows and fern, 
and flags of colours leached from our vestments, 
by osmosis, in symbiosis, 
fly high in our sky. 
It is a feast of the senses in this forest-- 
sparks light up the sky from our combustions. 
From the outside, the citadel starts to sing. 
Pebbles, then rock, warm to our touch
and the lichen doesn’t shrink when we pet it. 
The thunder abates, makes a rainbow mussed
almost immediately-- 
but it does speckle the sky, 
even though for a fleeting moment.
And when the gates of the citadel finally 
open, 
we invite its inhabitants 
to come outside and play. 

Poet's Notes:  So many desires unfulfilled, so many doors that do not open, so many tiny daily victories--life is a mosaic of failures and successes. But the greatest victory (for me, at least) is to be true to oneself, and in all endeavors, to be kind--to open those parts of the heart that cruelty and defeat have closed and live a full life.

Editor’s Note:  I saw the citadel as something literal at first, particularly until the turn at "but" midway through the piece.  Then I began to see the citadel as a poetic conceit for the walls we build around ourselves.  Until we understand ourselves and open up ourselves to the world by achieving a certain modicum of self-actualization, we cannot release our creative spirits or "inhabitants". 

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