by Srimati Lal




We walked
Through sodden streets,

Clinging desperately
To the shadows

Of all
Our past lives.


Face to face
Across a coffee-table,
We were strangers:

And yet

Tremulously tied-together
In some torture-chamber,

Knowing no difference anymore
Between laughter
And tears:

Having reached the end at last,
Of our intended


We were
The Warriors:

We had seen all,
Known all,

Been through
The black tunnel.

We'd watched all the fun
In minutest detail:

Had revealed
To one another
This lovely joke
That was called Life,

In all its

* * *



This bursting curve of tree
Against a sky blue as the sea
Is the best that can ever be,

On battlefields
Of lies
And despairing

And justifications of sin
To a self
Made by the self at last
Incapable of caring:

Yet, this curve of blossoms remains:

Retaining purity
As it cannot observe
Its own purity;

Retaining goodness
Only because it has no conscience
To remind itself of sin;

And feeling nothing
Except a whisper:

This pure breath of a winter sky

And some softly-varied nuzzlings
Of cold sparrows in its branches,


So that there will be new songs
To celebrate with
On each new dawn

On our battlefields of lust

* * *




When I recall my youth;
I remember jagged edges:

Lights glinting in the night sky;
A diamond sparkling,
Full of vanity and self-love.


...Words with sharp edges of distrust,
A clear knowledge of the future,
A cold waiting for Death:

You loved me, with all this:

Were drawn
To the glint
Of my


...Pride is a dark flame, in this night:
Burning blue and bright,
It draws the innocent
To their death.


Vileness is so full
Of the charm of mystery:
So devastatingly
Attractive to men:

As we women now, proudly,
Don the masks of War:

...Of our age's history

* * *




Wind, bend
But do not break me:

Cold lake,
Show me the shadow of the evening star
Within the branches of your shimmering heart.


Grasses moist
Of this my city,
This my soul,
Friend permanent
In my aloneness,

Speak to me:

Tell me these streets will live again,
That Life will soon begin
In aching pain
When Summer comes.


...Oh dream of ice
Oh brittle glass
Oh drained evening:

This my lake,
My lake of dreams;

Let there be flowers —

Let flowers fill
This evening hollow
To the end,
Within your heart

* * *



Come to me:

Come to me in the morning

Smile your flower-smile

And tell me
There still is Beauty,
Sweet Beauty:

Tell me
(Tell me, as this sun goes down,)
That the music
Which you speak of
Is free:

As free
By sun or moonlight
As butterflies:
Your hands,
Which I hold,
But will not trap:

...Your smile is sweet,
As flowers, wild, on mountain-paths
Before the ice destroys all flowers:

... Come, tell me
It will not

* * *




A wild red rose blooming
In silence,
Churning this earth,
Turning this earth:
Remembering ever, in this darkness,
No beauty can take birth without pain:
No finding ever reach light without wounded feet,

Thorned branches striving upwards,
For this first rush of gentle rain.


Come with me;
Come with me now, my gentle rose;
Come, fly with me to the final dark ends
Of this cold, cruel earth:

Come, search with me
For the last pure heart:

We shall find Him, together,
Hidden, quiet, in a deserted unswept corner
Of an old tenement-building,
In the last city of this world.


... We shall find our lost child again here,
Our child, made mad by torturous time and loneliness:

Made mad by our separation
And the mingled pain
Of our aeons of aloneness:

And craving our re-union,
The end of our rebirths:

... Speaking to us in his soul
Over all our centuries of apartness,

In all the tortured rhythms
Of his dance of Life and Death.


... And his beauty will be awesome,
Too dazzling to behold:

He shall be our completeness,
He shall be our wholeness:

We will never lose Him
To a world of Madness

Ever again


A D D E N D A :

The writer no longer uses her New Delhi studio in Nizamuddin. Her studio in New York is at:

148 West 67th Street, Apt. 12,
New York City 10023, USA
Phone & Fax: 212.874.1343

Calcutta Studio:

Writers Workshop,
162/92 Lake Gardens, Calcutta 700045, INDIA
Phone: 33.417.4325
Fax: 33.417.2683


N O T E S :

SIX POEMS was published in April 1997 and released at Hartnoll's Gallery, London, on the occasion of a first solo exhibition by Srimati Lal in London.

The paintings in the Hartnoll's Gallery exhibition were done over a period of 16 years in Europe, America and India.

The chemical paintings were done in New York between 1993 and 1997. Several canvasses and mixed-media works were done in Paris, New York and New Delhi over the same period.

The paintings on show were personally selected by Julian Hartnoll over two visits in 1996 and 1997 to Srimati Lal's Nizamuddin loft.

The artist had previously exhibited her work in major group shows in Maryland, USA, in 1983 (SPRING TREE, INDIAN MARKET); at the National Gallery in New Delhi in 1994 (A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, RAJASTHAN BLUE); and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Calcutta in 1981 (TREES OF SPRING, SUMMER, MONSOON, and WINTER).

The drawing entitled THE WINDOW (1982) was first used as the illustration for a play written by Srimati Lal entitled THE WINDOW: A DIALOGUE, published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta, in 1984 and performed there.

The poems THE WARRIORS, OF OUR AGE'S HISTORY and A WILD RED ROSE BLOOMING have been published for the first time in this volume. The other three lyrics were first published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta, in Srimati Lal's THE WINDOW and OTHER POEMS, 1984.

All international copyrights reserved by the author. No portion of this volume or gallery catalog may be reproduced without written permission from the artist and writer Srimati Lal.