There are two kinds of poets.
One moves through the world collecting words
like a woman placing gems into a reed basket.
Words that burn and cool
words that soar and sink
that lift the spirit or strangle the breath.
Words come from everywhere:
the rails of train stations in rural India
a coil of sunlight through wine held to a lover’s lips
the clean wound left in that lover’s absence.
She molds these words like clay
and places the gems carefully, to catch the light.
The other kind of poet wears saffron fur
and feels the world through the pads of her feet.
Words come to her in vibratory patterns
in colors that raise the hairs on her spine
and lure her into strange territory.
She hunts experiences that yield
words made of feather and bone
of blood and mineral
wholly alive or dying madly;
and she consumes them all.
She scrapes a visceral mark on the world
before passing out of it nearly unseen.
Oh to be both sculptor and beast!
Words can do anything in the right hands
they can fly in the four directions
or gather storms on a sunny day;
they can craft a ladder to the stars.
From there the view is nearly unimaginable.
You begin to see the whole of India
the whole of existence.
You see yourself and the beloved meeting
as if for the first time
your heart beating like a box of birds.
You see the parting sliced clean:
a knife through umbilical cord.
Tie off the blood and move forward
slip into your saffron coat and learn to hunt,
your eyes burning like gems in the night.
It is necessary to live
where things stop making sense.