Abstract expressionist painting on a square canvas in which large areas of cool marine colours are divided with contoured lines to create shapes that suggest distorted figures. An elegant looping line suggests a figure reclining before a window or a door.
"The Wave" by Willem de Kooning ca. 1942–44, Smithsonian American Art Museum

                  A poem explodes —
or gathers beneath you,
a soundless heaving wave
that you never climbed
                  And you find at once
your feet are off, your toes
don’t touch the floor, and
the sand is a memory.
                  Gasping at the edge
your heart is hoisted loose
the suck of air short and sharp —
final, perhaps.
                  Now behind you
the swell comes apart, melting
into foam shapes and opaque colour
— if white is a colour —
                  It shushes at the silence,
you see white beads scattered
on the air, disappearing, and
you’re still standing
                  But you don’t know
where you’ve been dropped —
this shore is new and you are lost
to make your joyful way again.

This is a tribute to the many times that I have felt renewed, even ‘saved’, by poetry. It doesn’t cease to amaze me how a few squiggles on a page can make their way across time and space into some corner of your being, to shift the furniture by a few inches, or wipe the glass, so to speak, so that there is suddenly a bit more space, a bit more light. It is a tribute, then, to the care and craft that must go into those squiggles; to the mutability of our minds; to the connectedness of ‘self’ and ‘world’.


Aditya Pandya is a writer and artist, and part of the Mad in Asia Pacific team. He leaves traces on the web around here and likes getting mail that isn’t trying to sell him things.