Two Poems by Saleem Peeradina
Song of Surrender

Hold me close--
for a night as pure as this
May never return. Stay with me awhile--
For in this birth
Our paths may not cross again.

So what if this tryst
has no tomorrow.
The dreaded guest is at the door.
When his work is done
I will have drawn my last breath.

Why try to reason
what is beyond reason?
You bestow upon me more
Than I'm seeking. What little I give
I lavish upon your yearning.

If this will fill
our begging bowls
Why should laws, oaths, hold us back?
Stretch your arm and take my hand.
History has already written us.

Here/Not Here

Here it is, this body, back from the bypass,
Cushioned in a cane chair at the bay window,
Soaking the sun: one foot at ease
The other, heeding the pull of dust.

There is a neighborhood outside, with fixed
And moving parts, as there is a world of objects
Inside this room. Metal, wood, brick, and mortar
Stand secure in seemingly limitless time. Then,

A gallery of still life studies comes alive.
Dried flowers against white curtains; a plate of fruit
Awash in colors from a painter's palette;
Knife, cutting board, bowls, jars, silverware,

Create their own compositions. His breath surging
With the hum of the refrigerator finds strange
Comfort in kitchen clatter, in stovetop aromas
That arouse and feed his appetite.

*

Between being present and missing
Is a high wire walk: he sees stranded
Faces with futures precariously linked to his fate.
The end of the thread crackles and snaps, and

He is no longer here. Cold consciousness levitates.
And around the body's shell is enacted
A classic choreography. Wet eyes witness
A shadow fading out of the chair, out of

The bay window evaporating into the sun:
A clean, swift erasure, except for the silver
Trail of metaphors in the rubble of his words.
A rosy pall descends on the recitation of his works.

*

Jolted awake, he hovers on the slash
Between not here and about to be here.
Days, weeks, even years, are returned to him
Conditionally. The decade ahead, still flowing,
But muddied, will teach him to be detached:
Disavow the ego, make light of his possessions.
To find his true calling, he must give
His heart away with both hands.

Having recovered the gift of his body, he will delight
In the world of the senses, ready to wade into
The abundance of light, the magic of every
Recurring day, the promise and peace of night.

The rising wind gently meshing this winter season's
Bone branches, anoints his own breath
Making its short run countless but finite times
Reclaiming his earthly ties. He is here.

Saleem Peeradina