Convivencia in corn rows

Another from the backlog of my Instagram poems making it to the blog.




Cornrows forge a rhythm to the sun
and self love feels like a line dance.
A shake of tassels and silks that
unfurl in the nick of time.

Love flowers on a stalk, above, below.
The wind sweeps in an airy betrothal,
a surge and then a sway, sashay,
a whirl in the nick of time.

Pollen, sparkles, pixel burst.
How do the ears of corn know,
to listen to the wind holler,
to twirl in the nick of time.

In a Caryopsis, a synopsis
of self seducing passions,
crushed to cornmeal. Floury
swirl in the nick of time.







The inspiration for this poem lay in a snippet of poetry that the wonderful actor, the late Irrfan Khan voices to a pomegranate plant in the movie Karwaan (Hindi). He say this to the sapling of Anarkali (pomegranate bud):

“They buried me alive thinking I’ll perish,
but they didn’t realise, that I’m a seed and in my burial, lay my redemption. My dear pomegranate bud, don’t be in a hurry to bloom and fruit. You will be taken to an expansive space where you can grow and flourish.”

The delicate instruction got me to think about seeds, progenitors of the future, buried and redeemed when they germinate. There are so many ways to create a seed. Love in the plant kingdom, if it can be called that, is as diverse as the plants that make up the flora of the world.

Today’s post is about corn rows in a field. Corn is a wind pollinated plant (male and female flowers occur on the same stalk and corn can self pollinate too). It would be interesting to note that the time of synchronous maturation of flowers on the stalk is termed colloquially, a nick. Tassels, silks, ears are all parts of corn flowers and Caryopsis, the fruit of the corn arranged on the cob, is a fruit body found in other varieties of grasses as well. So much for the botanical lesson for now.

On a separate note, it seems like ages when my mother braided my (then short) hair in cornrows which was unusual for my school days. It’s time consuming to braid hair thus, especially when extensions are involved (like I first saw people in Dar es Salaam wear them) hours of labour involved, but a wonderful way to wear hair nevertheless.

It was also in Dar that I danced a Kenyan style line dance that is a form of synchronized dancing where each person moves separately to rhythm. Do check the South African anthem Jerusalema that was put to this unbeatable step (to go viral online), by the Angolan dance troupe, Fenomenos de Semba (and if dancing with a plate of food is your kind of thing). The idea behind Line dancing is that it begets coexistence. I would like to imagine a kind of ‘Convivencia’, which resonates with the theme of corn love or a communal love dancing in a corn field, so to speak. (Although, Convivencia is used to denote the complex interplay of social, cultural and religious practices). We are still the same species despite the differences , like corn in a field.

Thank you for reading.

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