Poem Review: The Mountains

I struggled to start this piece.

Somewhere, I needed to remind myself that my journey is a responsibility, and I had to go back to the reason that I started writing. COVID crippled my travels, and I turned to imagination and Internet to visit places.

We are either mountain or beach people — some of us love the highlands and others like the vast seas and waves. I prefer the mountains, but I am still sitting at my writing desk, yearning to travel.

There had to be a way to discover the highlands and that too, from my writing desk. It was not easy, but finally I managed to.

The poems ‘A Romance Imagined’ by Priya Patel and ‘Magical Mornings’ by Elizabeth Urabe bring me the same pleasure that I would get if I were on those highlands.

Poem 1: A Romance Imagined

Picture Courtesy Priya Patel; © Prashant Verma Photography 2022

A space undefined by many
yet viewed by few
so please let me share
what my eyes see with you,
and maybe
you will see it too
I see tenacious red clay
and two sets of petulant lips
I see how provocatively they meet
and the way they gently sip
like a meshing of love
from an unsuspecting two
hidden in a place
that no one knew;
a place like my imagination
I see soft curves and lines
broken by an unmistakable hurt
and the gentle way love
likes to heal and flirt
I see a photographer’s lens
intrigued by a majestic shot
and a poet who can only see
letters into words and heartfelt thoughts
I see, between two clay boulders
a subtle romance waiting to be heard
and how inspiration writes
with photographs and words
Or maybe that’s just my imagination
This is what my eyes see

~ Priya Patel 🕉, March 11, 22

Commentary of Poetry 1:

I have read many poems, but only a few poems take me to high’s. The heights are so dizzying that I write my commentary intoxicated. I hope there is nothing called ‘Writing Under Influence’ — WUI. I blame it on the poet though. Just for the record.

Well, read, and get intoxicated. I am putting the last verse first.

I see a photographer’s lens
intrigued by a majestic shot
and a poet who can only see
letters into words and heartfelt thoughts
I see, between two clay boulders
a subtle romance waiting to be heard
and how inspiration writes
with photographs and words
Or maybe that’s just my imagination
This is what my eyes see

The picture captured by Prashant Verma, which I acknowledge as his copyright, is the inspiration for this poem. The picture is a cleave between two boulders taken inside up. It is an inspiring piece of photography, and I am two down on that inspiration chain chasing the photographer and the poet.

The poet is connecting the photographer’s view with hers, and in turn, with her readers, us. It is a valiant and painstaking attempt, capturing the magic of picture into a poem — a romance between two clay boulders, expressed in an ekphrastic sense.

A space undefined by many
yet viewed by few
so please let me share
what my eyes see with you,
and maybe
you will see it too

Everybody desires highlands, but only a few venture there. First, the comfort and cushy lives of the plains and cities are not there in the mountains. Beauty apart, resources are rare, it is only the brave and blithe, like poets, painters and artists visit the highlands.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
John Muir, Our National Parks

It brings out to the point — the secret of our lives lies in the mountains. Mountains are a space undefined by many, and viewed by a few. The space is unviolated and venerable.

I see tenacious red clay
and two sets of petulant lips
I see how provocatively they meet
and the way they gently sip
like a meshing of love
from an unsuspecting two
hidden in a place
that no one knew;

The poem flows into the sight that the photographer shows and the poet sees with every word crafted in poetic visuals.

The poet sees red lips, which are so hard that they are petulant, and probably it is the hard red clay that plays tough. They are not the soft lips, but they are rugged, toughened by the arid climate and baked by the angry sun.

Yet… they surprise us. The two lips meet provocatively, and in a way that they sip the air, like some spritely cold lemon juice in the hot desert, meshing in love. It is in old places that you find love; in places that we never knew and well hidden.

“Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful.”
Milan Kundera

As if, the lovely lips of nature is in another world, another planet. The picture could be the Grand Canyon, or Mars, for that matter, or a planet of our fantasies.

a place like my imagination
I see soft curves and lines
broken by an unmistakable hurt
and the gentle way love
likes to heal and flirt

The walls of the red boulders look like the innards of the meshed mouths, including their soft curves and lines; the photographer’s lens caressing the walls visually, as the tongues could feel the inside of the mouths, an imagination that stays in our mind forever.

What started as a love of meshing lips is ‘broken by an unmistakable hurt’, going through its triumphs and travails, and the journey continues with healing, and fresh flirts.

The inebriated writer, that is me, with two shots of smooth scotch, ‘on the rocks’, one shot visual and another poetic, succumb

mountains vanish into fog
and i vanish into poetry.”
Sanober Khan, A Thousand Flamingos

The romantic story remains forever, like the picture and the poem. I submerge myself into poetry, and now I am under influence. Hic. Hic.

Poem 2: Magical Mornings

Picture Courtesy : Elizabeth Urabe

Magical morning
majestic mountains moving
momentarily

Newborn sunbeams dance
in bold capricious patterns
of shadow and light

Brushed by daylight’s kiss
the trees stand at attention
patiently waiting

As clouds come and go
playfully intermingling
with the paradox.
E.R.Urabe

Commentary on Poem 2:

Between the sunlight and the clouds, the trees and the mountains, the magic of the morning lies somewhere in Arizona. Urabe’s world is magical and spiritual. I am a member of her tribe, and she, part of mine. It is a symbiotic relationship, and therefore, the understanding is a bit natural for me.

I was writing the commentary of Poem 1 under influence, intoxicated by the romantic overtures of two red clay boulders. Now, as the sun rises in the east, I read Poem 2, which washes my hang over and puts me in a spiritual contemplation.

Magical morning
majestic mountains moving
momentarily

Morning is magic — a miracle. Life comes on us one day at a time, and if we are awake to see the morning, it affirms the greatest miracle that we can see — that we are alive.

I open my window and stare at this picture. It is as if the mountains moved momentarily. What? I rub my eyes in disbelief. I look again. What? How can mountains move? I remember the hangover.

But I am in safe hands. May be the coffee that I just sipped. Or just the words that follow in the poem.

Newborn sunbeams dance
in bold capricious patterns
of shadow and light

Now I am a bit sobered up. The magical mountains moving are because the morning first, newborn ‘sunbeams’ dance. The dance is an illusion of the morning ‘light and shadows’, in bold patterns. Well, the morning sun can have capricious moods. So I better stay sober. One more sip of that morning coffee and I look out of the window again.

Brushed by daylight’s kiss
the trees stand at attention
patiently waiting

I have patient companions in trees. They wait patiently like people wait in queue at Starbucks outlets, just to be brushed by daylight’s kiss — to get their morning coffee. Trees don’t do tantrums, because they know that the young sun is benevolent, and would give them their morning caffeine.

As clouds come and go
playfully intermingling
with the paradox.

Ah! We did not talk about the shadows. There are shadows of the mountains and trees, but there are the shadows of the spongy clouds. The young sun plays truant once in a while, acting like the mischievous benefactor — the paradox of the magical morning.

I am enchanted, invigorated, up and about. A new day grows over the highlands.

Hugging the Highlands:

If we opine that these are just about red clay boulders and open lands with hills and trees, then let us think again. Intoxicating romance and sobering magic, that is the beauty of wilderness of the highlands.

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

So next time, if we want to discover ourselves, chasing inebriation or sobriety, visit the highlands — hills and mountains — and let ourselves lose. Our mind, body and soul will open up, and tell us tales of the evenings and mornings in that magical landscape.

Of course, for those of us who can’t, come back and read this review. A magical treat awaits.

~Ashok Subramanian

Poets and picture copyrights reserved and acknowledged.

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Ashok Subramanian

Ashok Subramanian

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Poet and Author. Poetry and Book Reviews. Investment Banker. IIM C Alumni. Engineering Graduate.