Author Archives: Pavithra K. Mehta

Bewitchery

You who set these snares,

Release me, flower-shaken

Heart drowning in light.

Stargazer pollen of 1 lily + kajal shard & 1 bedazzled brush

Visions of Fall

Fall is here again. Season of spare and paring things down, of cutting ties, and letting loose. Season of discards, castaways, parachutes. Of trees performing mass exorcisms. Fall is here again. Lean stray dog, stripping things down to the bone. No furnished rooms for let. Its offices austere, its intentions monastic. Fall does not wish on stars or live in hope. This is what it looks like to divest dramatically. Let the chips fall where they may. 

Thoughts take on a patina in this time of verdigris and vine. Nothing is as it once was. Everything is susceptible to tarnish. Even you. Who can feign innocence in fall? In Spring we are wide-eyed children learning our mother tongue. By fall the world is crowded with words, and we’ve all tasted forbidden fruit. Unforgettable knowledge blooms in the body. The flavor of freewill. All lanes are memory lanes in fall. All beauty is bittersweet. Desolation and delight hold each other’s pinky finger, swear they will never be separated.

There is a clamoring glamour to these days.  Honking geese cause a small traffic jam in your heart. The wind shakes the trees and your confidence. The new moon feels like an abandonment. One must practice self-reliance in spring and summer — in fall one falls upon inner resources. It is too late to build reserves. If there aren’t any then, then there aren’t any. The stringency of this is grounding. All laws of nature are.

Lamp light is poetic in every season, in fall it is also phantasmic. Walk down an unfamiliar sidewalk in that deep blue triangle of life between dinner and dreamtime. In that surreal soundscape of slow cars, brisk dog walkers, and the struggling notes of a valiant middle-school musician, look for curtainless windows. Ones through which you might catch a glimpse of a staircase curving out of view, or the polished corner of a dining table. Maybe an oil painting on the wall, or a fiddle leaf fig by a desk. You do not need to try to fit yourself inside these bright tableaux. You are already implicated. Everyone leads imaginary lives in other people’s homes. There you are. Invisible and standing at the casement window, trailing fingers in the sink, or curled up in an armchair. Lost in a book so old and worn, the lettering on its red spine is indecipherable. 

Fall nights lift the anchor, make it easy to drift under the stars into the sea of someone, somewhere else, to belong to other worlds without purpose or premeditation. For brief moments, on such nights I walk without name, or personal history. I walk without thought of tomorrow, without thought of past grievances or blessings. Moving as woodsmoke moves, lifting out of a narrow chimney and discovering its belonging everywhere.

In this season of not-yet-winter, I slip my hand into your warm one. Am suctioned sweetly back, into the outline of my skin. I feel my feet on the ground, and stretch inside, like a cat. Ready to lie down at the glowing hearth of my heart. Ready to enter its dream.

In fall, perhaps more than any other season– I remember.

How good it is to be home.


For Rilke

A sideways pursuit

Head bowed, no hands, tail thrashing

Living the questions.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily, beet juice, lemongrass-scented chai dregs, kajal splinter & 1 questing brush

Summer’s Vintage

Fall tips the bottle

Flowers open fading throats

One last swill of sun.

Stargazer pollen of 1 lily + beet juice + sip of saffron-threaded chai + kajal shard & 1 bittersweet brush

Logogram

Curvaceous mermaid

On rocky perch, singing sea

To land — ampersand.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily + beet juice + cardamom-scented chai dregs + kajal chip + 1 footloose brush & pen

Unexpected Me

Turned hotly to strike,

Tripped on electric surprise

My coiling beauty.

Turmeric-tinged water + coffee grounds + streak of kajal & 1 capricious brush

Some Days

On some days heart is

a small, fantastical bird

with ruffled feathers

Stargazer pollen from 1 fresh-bloomed lily + saffron-laced chai dregs + a sliver of kajal + 1 nonchalant brush & pen

Dissemination

This love lifts from me

Like summer pollen riding

Bareback on the breeze.



Stargazer pollen dust from 1 brazenly fragrant lily + the very last sip of afternoon coffee + a splinter of kajal & 1 impetuous paintbrush


Tarweed in Her Hair

In late summer there is little left of lushness here. Spring’s pretty florals and prancing greens have given up the ghost. The tall grasses are the hair of a wandering crone, bone dry, wind-matted. Snarled branches of scrub oak mutter incantations. Silver buckeye skeletons filigree the canyon. Even thirsty, delirious, and going to seed, these burnished hills are beautiful. This is what longing can look like. Wild-eyed, bereft, and bursting with the crackling pods of future fruit.

Walking a narrow dirt path, your gaze snags on a small patch of ground. It is misted with a haze of white flowers, the only ones anywhere in sight. Kneel down to meet them. Such tiny, starry faces. Seen close up, a geometry of sacredness is revealed, invisible to all who stay standing. Rays of miniature white petals fringe pale green centers flecked with black-tipped anthers. Such elfin integrity, precision, and eloquence. Language, all language, suddenly feels coarse, and approximate in comparison.

Tarweed. I suspect whoever named you was a person of considerable laziness and limited imagination.

The flowers are borne on tawny stems that are seemingly delicate, surprisingly strong. Stems that branch with painterly perfection in all directions. Sticky with exudate that some say reeks of turpentine. I say one could possibly bottle this scent, and sell it expensively. Fragrance notes: citrus, cedar, amber, candor and sunshine. Struggling with the world’s indifference? Simply spritz your pulse points, inner wrists, behind each ear– and be rendered instantly alluring to some, repugnant to the rest. Apathy will no longer be an issue. 

Perhaps this is why I love wildflowers so much. They disrupt my disregard in welcome ways. They untether my senses from the familiar, compel my gaze below, beneath, beyond, invite me to breathe in the bewitching, musky, pungent, and sometimes offensive, incense of this world, to touch its stickiness, investigate its purpose, to seek even in revulsion– revelation. I genuflect frequently now. I walk with more curiosity and care. Their feral, anything but sterile presence thrills me, spills into my settled pools of domesticity, untames me by slow degrees, acquaints me with holy minutiae and the longing of the waiting, wild-eyed crone within. The one who will one day go to seed. Hopefully with earthpraise on her lips, and tarweed in her hair.


The Strange Woman Inside

I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, ‘I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I wanted to say’; but I know now I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to.- Mary Ruefle

You reading these words, I writing them– where are we going?  What is the plan? Your find yourself here– but do you really? Do I? Where do we find ourselves– really? Sometimes, even on days when I have nowhere to be, I feel a strange pressure within. What is this feeling? I believe it has something to do with the strange woman inside. 

It has come to my attention recently, that inside me, is a woman who believes she is running late. Who is she? How long has she been there? And late for what? These are reasonable questions. I don’t believe she knows the answers. I know I don’t. This does not stop either of us from feeling a sense of low grade urgency. “Hurry please!” she whispers, always demanding, but never impolite. “Hurry please!” And I, who have always disliked hurrying, feel an odd compulsion to obey.

At such times the delicate, green fronds of my awareness pull back and curl up tightly. Like a touched touch-me-not, I too am capable of closing up shop in an instant. Capable of withdrawing to a safe distance within myself, that is to say, out of reach of the coltish and curious present. Dogs and toddlers are the opposite of touch-me-nots. They gambol about in constant full-bodied contact with the here and now. Because they exist in a state of near-constant surprise, they are not fascinated by the future, and they are unafraid of delays. 

But for those of us freighted with dreams, unmitigated contact with this moment always runs the risk of delaying our arrival at the next (somehow more important,) moment. And according to the nameless, recently discovered woman inside me– the one who believes she is running late– all delays are disadvantageous. So even though we do not know where we are going, she and I, we have been trying to get there quickly. We have been trying not to waste time being here, when we could be arriving there. But recently, it must be reported, I have been falling short. 

Ignoring the exigencies of the situation, I have tended to tarry. Have allowed myself to be waylaid. By crow calls and hummingbird wings, by moss drifts on old oaks, by the long lasso of the lily’s scent. By the sunlight that pours into my pockets bearing a silence so wide, it opens closed spaces within. A silence so deep it swallows up the strange woman inside. Her urgency, mine, and our memories of each other– submerged in a sea of gold. 

Now, you who find yourself here (or do you really?)– tell me — where did I lose myself? Where am I to be found?

No, no – wait!

I’ve changed my mind. Don’t give me the answer. Why spoil the mood?

Let’s continue to dance instead. Let’s continue to dance this dance, of losing and finding, finding and losing, losing and finding — until we are both so dizzy, so dazzled — we cannot tell the difference anymore.