As events played out recently, I had the sweet fortune of being the celebrant for a very private exchange of marriage vows (yes, y’all read that right ! 🙂) It was for a lovely couple, very good friends we’ve known for many years. I also had the privilege of solemnising a unity candle ceremony, as well as being a witness later in the presence of an officiant, authorised to lawfully seal the union. It has been a most wonderful experience, in these grey and hazy times.
Later, I wrote a poem to mark the occasion, a tribute to their nomadic lives as they work for the betterment of children’s lives the word over. I tried to capture what it means to be a couple, while being part of the United Nations, separated often by geography and time, which will resonate with those that are involved in long distance relationships. It is a poem on how love sustains across borders, time zones, long separations, days, months, years… a few aspects of the story are deeply personal to our friends, the rest being poetic license. I’ve tried to add a touch of their organic world and weave in some of the countries they have lived in … I have experimented with the first person narrative style which in this poem, stands for either of the couple speaking to the other.
The theme song of this intimate ceremony was an enchanting instrumental based on Verve’s classic bitter sweet symphony. I have italicized what I borrowed from the song. There’s also a bit of Bizet’s Carmen at the end, which too has special significance.
The last month has been a whirlwind of sorts and when beautiful things happen around you seamlessly, like a river flow or you yield to the river perhaps, then surely, life is blessed.
The poem has been arranged to appear like a wave (best viewed on a large screen or tablet), given that a precious friendship was seeded in the aftermath of a Tsunami.
Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, that's life..
bloat of whale song, birdsong, petulant -
the rattle of tanks and thunder,
giant waves cascading cymbals on shores
for heartbeats lost
in native lands.
I'll take you down the only road
I've ever been down.
You know the one
that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet ..
those hopeful rivers
merging sinuous sentiment
into the shapelessness of ocean
s p a c e beneath the breast,
a vast rhythmic rise
in tidal moons, waves licking shores
now awash in stories loosely anchored
to transient shoals,
sedimenting the ocean floor
in breezy metaphors of flying fish,
fish like mammals breathing our air ......
The reef edge was always steeply laced
in a filigree of the statuesque -
Coral corralling within aragonite bridal veil,
feelings in free d
Rewind to retrospect:
Small Giant Clams
netted and harboured secrets
to the future we never dreamed of
except in stories that read as life itself,
long after the deed is done.
Washed ashore briefly on coral sands,
we were a tsunami of affections
seeking anchorage to archipelagic sentiment,
creating little islands of purpose,
islands of recreation,
sand banks of spirituality, floating islands,
floating plankton, floating algae, swimming
in the shallows like the time
I almost drowned
and pulled you to seaweed depths
but you came up gasping for air,
to a soul clarity,
we both did ..
Time flew, like I flew, like a raven
off the ark, to the ruins
of an ancient fairy tale,
where salt water couldn't drown
a covenant struck in a yielding heart,
the only living thing which I thought existed
in the semi arid of those lifeless blunders
that overstay their welcome on the dunes.
The stars of the desert as brilliantly
luminous as our eyes, blinking binaries
when I looked for you in asterisms and you
looked to me
under a red blanket.
You came with a sprig in your beak
to drier sands,
where we etched
the holy books of faith
to our own religion
under a blanketing sentiment ..
feelings relocated, landlocked,
then clarified in three layers of lake
amid a thousand cichlid kisses
darting under a blazing fire.
Those sun burnished hearts
south of the equator strangely rhyme
the same, while venous blood flow upwards,
downwards and across
that expansive meter
of grassland, where we fostered
the lives of children like it were
a spiritual mandate.
Those leached affections pooled
into a reservoir of love, a lake
that turned clear as crystal
in that turbid genesis ..
the celestial was most surreal
when I woke one day to the milky way
obscured by the million lights
along a river,
dazzling a grid of avenues and streets
and I know that to this layered night
was hitched the hem of your sunrise
and your cape of night stars
the one that would course through time
to find me with stories
etched in constellations,
of warlords and poppy fields
where the only rebel was the heart
for it floundered on land carpeted
in the brightest, sometimes the whitest
snow, ravaged by battle tanks, redeemed
by roses along savage roads
and land as soft as noni
and my heart yearned
under the same sky,
yours and mine,
by the geography of employment.
It takes a while to find one's feet
in the clayey soil of mangroves
skirting the bay where tigers
tread to glide and humans barely stand,
for the passage of time
has been cobbled in death
trod by the advancing cavalry of years
of those we knew who never grew any younger
and now, will never grow older,
but we had each other,
our days vivisected
to a standard operating procedure,
so we thought, zooming through
the virtual multiverse
which sagely conspired to confine
breath to national pleura ..
deaf to the ventilating heart,
blind to the diminishing 'soul'?
Are human lives as poetic as mangroves -
inhaling through aerial roots ?
Or a stone cold reclining Buddha -
His holy feet rubbed in gold leaf
having little use for a Midas touch?
Illusions of habitat, these ..
Reality is solely etched in our partings,
our separations, our prolonged confinements.
Our measured lives
to the everyplace invisible
punctuating our complacency,
like a sardonic smile
lurking without a body,
The world at its loudest SOS
made every moment a past tense,
as crepuscular as terse beliefs
situating ambition in twilight, that future we all desire
but never really have. So we
defied time, shredded tense
planned a grand escape, to elope
with the moment itself.
They told us that
love .. is a bohemian child and
he never, never knew a law,
but strangely, love's law
kindled this union as certain as a flame
lights another and coruscates the void.
That's, the only road we know,
the tangible of bright, the space w i t h i n,
limitless as the horizon on a globe
I'll take you down
the only road I've ever been down.
You know the one that takes you
to the places
where all the veins meet ..