Madhuri in conversation with the moon…
First, I find the Moon.
…I am she. I am cool, lofty, glowing, motherly, vast, and very feminine. I look from a distance. Now, I ask what arises in me to ask:
Moon: Madhuri, what made you write about me?
Madhuri: When I realized you are a mirror of a sort that really appeals to me: lopsided sometimes, perfectly round others; flawed as to face but still utterly graceful; mysterious as anything any poor human can allow you to be. Thus I could ‘play in the fields of the Lord’ – though you are female, of course, as I see now…Still, you are an actress par excellence – you can be anything; any make-up can be applied to you. I love to play!
Moon: What was the moment you saw that?
Madhuri: When I was very low. I had been in a car with my staunch, solid boyfriend – bless his dear good heart – driving an hour across a plain in Kansas to go to dinner at an Indian restaurant. It was a regular weekend thing we did – a sedate, time-consuming ritual. The seemingly soulless emptiness of the landscape, but most of all the human component of it, had gripped me by the throat one more time….I’d lived there five years by then. And then the moon came out…and a poem started to arrive in me, to tickle at me in waves and bits. When I began to write it (as soon as I could get to pen and paper) you, Moon, began to take on this completely non-serious freedom of being. You changed personas rapidly as dancing. I was made very happy by this. It was like a vein of liberation had opened, even beyond the usual poetic vein of liberation (if you can call that sort of thing usual!) From then on, poems to you began arriving in a near-compulsive, hop-skipping stream. This took place over a summer and fall, in Missouri and in Europe; just a good glimpse of you and some pesky poem or other would waylay me.
After a bit I felt I might like to make a book of them. Later still, I was going through my entire collection of poems (paper stacked a foot high) and cutting off their margins to make them easier to send for storage or to take with me. I began to see moons in some of them; these I kept aside. I liked the variety from the different stages of my life. And so the book took form.
Moon: And what will you do with me now?
Madhuri: Nothing. Actually, I find myself trying to prevent more moon poems – though I might not be successful.
Moon: What about love, and your heart?
Madhuri: Oh, Moon…what a subject! First of all…I live in a place now that nourishes me so grandly – so surely – so on-goingly – this North of mine, the North I’ve always wanted, that hid, during all my blessed, blessed years in India, in a crack in some lichened rock in my interior, and only came out when there was no more way to prevent it showing itself; and which still took years to position itself practically in my life. This North is like you in its coolness, its propensity to change. Every day it alters weathers a hundred times. It is serene and wild and lonely in the best way. It is earth and sky and being unbothered by silly sunshine and beachy crowds and sweat and annoying weights of traffic and commerce. I love it like my own soul. So there is love….And love is found in my meditation, my Self-Healing, as I call it. Down deep in my own being – now that the long storm of puberty and quasi-adulthood has passed – I find my North, my cool, my privacy, my aloneness, my enchanting mystery. And I am happy and absorbed in that. Love of people?…It is only a result of feeling good inside right at that moment; and then, for more intricate loves, lasting longer than the greeting of a shopkeeper, or a session with a client (where love must arrive, from Elsewhere, and does -) a man – if we’re now talking about men here – must have energies that agree with mine, all by themselves. And since I left that good man in America, this has emphatically not happened. I keep getting bruised at some edge of my aura by some sort of barbarian elbow, and I withdraw like a snail into my lovely four-story one-room-wide row-house shell. It can be a small thing – it is usually a small thing; the way a man peremptorily shoves the neighbour’s little cat off my garden table; the way the density of his aura suddenly reaches my nostrils in an acrid smell that is full of his taken-seriously-by-himself thoughts. The way he is a little too sorry in his paunch and bravado and bluster. No. No Dick Cheney lookalike for me now….I’m not settling. Love is either mine, or it’s not here; meaning, it lives in my cool interior or it doesn’t; but to try to borrow it from a man seems impractical.
Moon: Will you come to me like a child, with your arms open?
Madhuri: I fly to you, and pillow on the night, and sleep in your arms as if you are my best mother. Your light does not disturb me – it’s as soothing as being cradled at a party when you are tiny, and your mother’s love is all around you.
Moon: Good, Madhuri, good. (Stroking my hair.)
After a while:
Madhuri: Moon, may I ask you a question?
Madhuri: Do you have anything to say to me?
Moon: Don’t bother about anyone. Be joyful unto yourself. I expand to hold you. All is well.
Madhuri: Thank you, Moon.
Later she puts me down, to roam again in life, with the knowing that it is never obvious ahead of time where the next tide of poetic imperative will swing in from; I don’t covet it at all, ever; it is completely its own person with its own timing, and absolutely none of my business. I just go about cooking, shopping for food, cleaning my house, going on trips here and there; and the new poems are hiding behind the hills. My arrangement with them has always been implicit and unbothered. I leave them alone and they leave me alone, until it’s time.
Text by Madhuri
Read the review of Madhuri’s recently published poetry book: More About the Moon