a poem for Valentine’s Day

Hello my poetry people!

Welcome to our new members and I hope you are all well! I am really enjoying all the new day that comes with spring.

Today’s poem is from Imtiaz Dharker’s collection Over the Moon. I started reading it last spring and have returned to it lots since, as I think I tend to with all my favourite things. It’s a beautiful, unusual collection combining Dharker’s poems with her illustrations; it has many longer, more traditionally structured poems alongside tiny ones, sometimes untitled, only a couple of lines long.

Don’t Miss Out! Book Right Now for the Journey of a Lifetime!, by Imtiaz Dharker

We trawl the options, seek out the perfect combination of hotel
and flight, the distant beach, the extra night, consider packing
suitcases, examine the travel clothes and lotions, get as far as
tying on our baggage tags. Then I look at you standing here
in this pale grey light and think that I have miles and miles
to go before I know you, and as in any unknown country
I may wish to travel to your sites, and make repeated
visits to become familiar with you. We look out of
the bedroom window at the usual view and think
we may prefer to linger on here, where we have
each other’s endless landscapes to explore,
where I seek out your shore, you stalk my
tigers and the world will say it lost us.
This will be our stolen week, your
kiss my break, my eyes your lake
your mouth will be my Paris.
And as for Machu Picchu,
there are other routes
than dizzy altitude
to render us light-
headed, other
ways than
thin blue
air to

leave us breathless, and we are here,
not away not far but where
we want to be, still where
we were, this red arrow
pointing straight at
who we are, and

You Are
Here

◊◊◊

This is a love poem for everyone this week, whether you think Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate love in all its extravagance, or whether you think it’s a cynical invention designed to monetise the deepest human desire. Dharker’s long lines at the beginning sweep us into a flurry of preparation, packing, administration – before the dramatic shift of perspective at ‘Then I look at you standing here / in this pale grey light’. I think this is the volta, the turn, of the poem – the point at which something shifts, and the poem splits open and spills out, like ruby seeds from a pomegranate.

From here on in, the poem is no longer concerned with ‘the perfect combination of hotel / and flight, the distant beach, the extra night’. Instead it picks up its heels, shortens its lines, and zooms in on the beloved, on the ‘endless landscapes’ of their body, until it reaches the exact present moment in which the lovers exist (‘You Are / Here’). I love how it cuts right through all the tiny details of love and strips it back to its most fundamental element – just people, being together.

Take care and show yourselves some love this Friday – whether that’s with a partner or dog or friends or family, or whether you find some peace in solitude!

All my love,                                                 

Tanvi

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