Paresh Tiwari

The Poet Navigates by Stars

There’s an uncharted lighthouse in her overnighter.

The red-white tower, an ancient speckled rock on which it stands, and the waves crashing over them in a resolute rhythm. All folded neatly and Tetrised into the bag. And then there’s the old seagull nesting in her hair. She never really talks about it. Even with lovers lined up in the deserted streets of her shehr-é-bachpan. But behind the closed doors of her first home, she sets it free.

The bird takes wing. Gliding by the walls that remember the touch of nine-year-old fingers, before coming to rest on a drop of ink punctuating the sunset.

She plants the lighthouse outside one of the windows, unscrews the cap of her pen and rows. The desk sets sail over the skin of night. The poet navigates by stars.

A gentle breeze follows her around, alights on her knuckles. She takes a sip of the sky and waltzes with an octopus. One of its eight arms on the small of her back. Forward-side-together. Backward-side-together. A whale calf circles the song spilling from her lips. Each swish of its tailfin a prophecy unfulfilled.

this living

this dying                              the wingspan
of a poem

As the sun begins to light up the horizon, she drops anchor and gives in to sleep. Her warm flesh one with the battered desk. The desk, now half a continent away from the promised land.


About the author:
Paresh Tiwari is a writer, poet, and a cartoonist in the body of a Naval Officer. He has been widely published, especially in the sub-genre of Japanese poetry. The first collection of his haiku and haibun, An Inch of Sky, was published in 2014. Currently the resident cartoonist for Cattails, a journal by United Haiku and Tanka Society, USA, he was also commissioned for thirty-five illustrations for the December 16 edition of Frameless Sky. Tiwari has been invited to read his works at various literature festivals, including the Goa Art and Lit Fest – 2016, and has conducted haiku and haibun workshops at Hyderabad International Literature Festival – 2014, SIES College Mumbai and British Council Library, Mumbai. His second book of haibun, titled Raindrops Chasing Raindrops is in the bookstores now. Tiwari is the O:JA&L Featured Writer for March 2020.

Image: Ishtam (Kerala Girl) by Rajasekharan Parameswaran (1963- ). Oil on canvas. 34 x 27 inches. 2017. By free license.