Dis-colored; Pilgrim Soul
By: Nishi Chawla
Yesterday afternoon, the sun spoke to me,
Slowly, lazily, cheekily, carefully checking me
For aftereffects, with its flashbulb style scans;
I looked back at the glowing red, befuddled.
My captive soul knew a riptide for its message,
Why would I wear safety eyewear, for we are all
Birds in flight, loosened upon a fissured planet,
Branded by the color of our skin tone and type.
I cling to my roots that turns into a no answer,
Cut loose, my fate blooming in brown earth
My pain turns into a no response, like a black
Slash of lightening, somber messenger of fate.
I am my own little garden, content to be raking
My kind of grass, and the plants do not question,
Adrift in my shadow, nor ‘of color’ or ‘which color,’
Those dreadful clocks of colorless seasons, sealed.
I hate the peace of coloring, and its weird lies,
Endured beyond the ‘black like me’ poppings,
I scream with pain, squeak, throw buckets of water,
A voyager on green mountains, sun-blocked.
Variety is just a potholed causeway, The Orangeman noted, speculating about This motley ring, a passage full of fools, And history is the present tense of skin.
Tags, sticking out, flying in mute shades As in a void, with a white pennant sticking,
Diaphanously strutting, thundering cheap
Rhetoric, about the beauty of probabilities.
Skin tones, facilitate the suspension of logic.
Different perspectives provoke productivity,
And yet one stays strictly slotted in grooves,
Comfort itself wears artful shapes of sameness.
Between the thudding sounds of cultures, a strange
Line of beliefs persist, breed normative for
Clothes, between soft strung, clinging values.
Nurtured by centuries of ethnic types.
So this was what life was all about in a
Country several thousand miles away, she
Whispers to herself, her memory set afloat,
Between gaps, the small bungalow of her
Childhood years, still sighing for her, and
The sprawling ranch serenading her grey hair.
Until the western sky is the sole thought,
And spiritual journeys undertaken, often
Resisted and resolved under conditions of
Painful rejection, gestures of integrity, when
Tired feet strike dirt, and constancy becomes
A dilemma of weary minds, choosing costumes.
The outer attire is illusory, yet confounded by
The need to blend, as if inheriting the earth is
A kind of auctioning off game of destiny, so
She would mock, deride those very crusading
Demons that threaten to go against the grain,
Raise her cup to cheer off solemn thoughts.
Per chance, when there is sufficient pain,
She would hesitate to wrack herself with
Destiny’s brazened bonds, rarely venture
Forward, in pain or in dreadful gloom,
The look of love was never there. Plant
The corn, sit down to break bread together.
Fish in the morning, then feel the salty smell of
Philosophy, a pilgrim soul with pilgrim eyes,
Savoring all that is left of existence, in faded
Letters, touch the brown eyes of brooks, walk
Past them as a passerby overlooking a bridge,
Between mortal clay and its dull shimmer.
There is little to imagine in the receding light,
Shapes and forms quicken, then burst skin-etched.
The pagan drama of religious identification charged
By blasts of rules that rise and falter, take umbrage
From new ways of falling out, rebirthing. Those
Multitudes of skin shades, superlatively super-imposed.
Nishi Chawla is an academician and a writer.
She has seven plays, six collections of poetry, and two novels to hercredit. Her plays get staged regularly in India as well as in WashingtonD.C.
Nishi Chawla holds a Ph.D. in English from George Washington University and postdoctorate from Johns Hopkins University. After teaching for nearly twenty years as a tenured Professor of English at Delhi University, India, she migrated with her family to a suburb of Washington D C. She taught at the University of Maryland from 1999 until 2014. She is now on the faculty of Thomas Edison State University, New Jersey.