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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PADMA, You May Laugh at Me*, A Poem Inspired by T. Wijaya

You May Laugh At Me*,
A Poem Inspired by T. Wijaya,

Padma, you may have left me,
But the blanket on our bed remains.

Sometimes from out in the street
I hear chatter; I run to the window,
Open the drapes,
Look from our second-story flat,
And I see children.
Because the event more or less reoccurs daily,
At intervals, fifteen minutes before the ninth hour,
I imagine the youngsters are students,
Who hurry, hasten, not to be late for school.

The sound runs major then quiets to minor,
But before too long it returns, again, to loudness.

Beneath its ebb and upward flow,
Within the clamors' swirling expansion and contraction,
Underneath it all, I swear to it, darling, I swear,
I very clearly perceive,
Throughout the commotion, a young, collective voice.

In my mind the cacophony
Amounts to no mere happenstance of noisy play,
But is itself poetry,
It seems to capture a lyrical composition.

It is as if the youngsters have gained access,
Know the words and meter of my heart’s declaration.

I feel the children have taken my verse
And boldly recite it for the public.

Their voice expresses every splendid feeling and thought,
I hear my love for you said aloud with excellence,
A match, as though the poet himself read the lines.


Padma, think how strange it seems, paradoxical when
These self-same students learn in classroom,
And study day-long the language of science,
Yet my own textbook teaches at odds;
It stands against current curriculum, revealing solely
Great passion and affection, a knowledge that
No everyday, timely attendance might bring to reason.

No matter the hours, whatever time devoted to lessons,
No amount of homework or tutorial reduces my soul,
Its lyric, to easy, algebraic, chalk–board formulation.

I am reminded of how hapless the task,
Attempting to find reason, to understand
All the marvelous abundance God bestows,
Although we may not merit, no way deserve
His grace, the bounty which freely befalls us.

Padma, you may laugh at me, but when I awaken
I pretend to percolate coffee for you,
Or I imagine that I receive your telephone call,
Your voice at the other end, you,
No longer at business, far away, but here now,
The distance between us breached,
The gap closed, and that you have called to tell me
You are safe and have arrived home.

My emotions flutter when I hear your vocal timbre.

Padma, my dreams of you are constant,
And possess warmth and overall good feeling.


Consider it. Once I recount my story,
The story about you,
You the woman, who has abandoned me,
Would anyone accept this tale?

Suppose we were to search the whole wide world,
Would we find one, one single person,
Who concludes, who believes,
If even for a moment, that I am a happy man?

Padma, I do not regret a single day.
My thoughts of you, our life together, remain indelible.
And when you promised heaven and earth to me,
Those moments in which you had sworn
And ardently acclaimed your love for me,
My remembrance of them, carry me to joy,
To boundless fervor and contentment,
They fire within my mind’s eye.

Padma, a big smile inhabits my face.


Remember the tree I planted in our garden?
Its fruit has become property of another,
And each and every time I think over our life,
The every instance we spent together,
I find myself sitting at the desk to write,
As if enthralled by some faery power and driven,
Hoping to explain how I trust every word you said,
Wishing to relate the splendid images,
The visceral weight, and the deep compulsion,
To relive the time, our hand was in hand, and
We were held together, our fingers interlocked.

Padma, in endless run of sentence after sentence,
My life returns to the great day, the glory chapters,
Which comprise the big book of our love,
Oh, how thrilled I am to have been at your side.

Padma, in your heart my love for you may be dead.
But each day I rise again in that blue room,
That blue bedroom, where we started the day,
Each day I wake to the same blue sky,
Which houses our Lord, to Him I pray.
I ask for nothing, only His Will for you, for me, today.

Padma, my lovely light, you, the dream which floods
Across this room, down upon the key board,
And drives my fingers to write the length,
-- Oh, the grand expanse over which my bosom races --
No mere chimera, no flight of fancy,
But real as is the space between earth’s continents,
My ardency covers distance,
Real as the miles, which total our globe’s circumference.


Do not fear me; do not fear this verse.

Padma, listen not to friends,
Those who claim misgivings,
Who believe I have taken leave of my senses,
That my ultimate design may want best for you.

You know that is not the case.

Padma, I write in the moment,
And, as you already know,
This instance sums all a human may possess,
We own but this one day, alone,
Still I mean every word I say for the ages,
I want world and posterity to learn.

Oh what a lucky man I have been.
My good fortune, the gratitude I feel
For loving you and and having made your acquaintance!

*The Indonesian Poet, T. Wijaya's original title for this poem was RATNA, You May Laugh at Me. I kept the subtitle, but changed the name of the woman to whom the poem is addressed to PADMA. The name RATNA unfortunately conjures unfortunate associations for an English speaking audiences. I imagine my poem, though inspired by Wijaya's reading of his verse, has little to do with the sense and meaning of the poem. I do not know the Indonesian language and have relied solely on a rough translation into English provided in the original reading of the poem. I have used his verse as a launch pad for my own.

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