Poetry / March 2017 (Issue 35)

The Inner Duel

by Ashish Khetarpal

Come, dear boy, I must take you there
Where we can lie down on the grass unaware
Of the world and its borrowed worries;
Where true bliss is found and joy tarries
For those who rejoice in the dew on their shirt,
And play like children in earth's sacred dirt.
It is there I must take you!

Listen not to him, dear boy, come hither
With me, go not tither!
Why waste this precious little life
When there is much to gain in struggle and strife!
You must learn to be a man and become one,
Life is no star-gazing but a race to run.
It is for that I must prepare you!

No, dear boy, you must come and see
The meaning of our lives in a single tree,
And how leaves are the heralds of wisdom
Naught that you can find in the richest kingdom.
It is no accident that from the tree's womb
They fall so soon and sooner find a tomb.
It is of this evanescence that I must teach you!

No, dear boy, you must not listen
To the Romantic babble here of my kin.
He has never had a farthing to spare
And no more for any accidents prepare.
What of autumn when trees do naught bear?
How will you then for your own kin prepare?
It is for that I must instruct you!

But dear boy, hear me at last!
In autumn, trees bear and the will to fast:
It is their own act of sacred ablution,
The departure of leaves is life coming to its fruition.
Go not thither where trees are not understood,
Where they only care for its precious wood.
It is to show you that that I must keep you!

Me too, dear boy, hear me once more,
And think of all the lassies in store!
Will your nature with such love provide?
The warmth of those thighs open wide.
I merely say to weigh both sides;
In man both reason and temptation resides.
It is to show you that that I must take you!

Come, dear boy, now see things clear!
This vile man puts even me in fear
And doubt of all that is good in this world.
Look! How in fury his fingers are curled!
He offers all that is impure and ephemeral,
And forgets that nature is your true shell, my pearl.
It is why I must keep you here!

If you are unmoving, boy, then see me gone!
When there is no raiment on skin, and hunger upon;
When skies are grey, and clouds belligerent,
And no sight for weeks of the horizon's bent;
When your manhood will both tickle and pain
You will think of life's losses and gain,
And now I must leave you here!

 Ashish Khetarpal was born in Meerut, India. He studied English Literature at the University of Panjab, and attended University of Rennes 2 in France, where he did research in Historiography and Alternative History. He divides his time between India and Rennes where he is engaged as a language instructor for English, Hindi and French. He is the author of When the Wind Blows and Other Poems.
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