He never wrote poetry.
He kept tolling the church bell until the end
and immersed the sound of primal death deep
into the soil of words
the protest of sparrows
by the windowsill.
Father Greene, the fertile earth of Kerala,
death ripening in a Vellore Hospital,
the nurse and her hypnotic breasts,
G. A. Kulkarni’s Ingrid and Balkavi,
Dnyaneshwar and his once hearing of a crow’s cawing,
the sinless eyes that captured Noor Jahan.
He never ever wrote poetry.
He kept belting out rather through his alphabets,
quavering us to our very bones.
From where the fruit of poetry fell onto our navels,
he planted church towers far across the face of this sphere,
even into interstellar space.
He was searching for other Graces*, in other galaxies –
poets birthing from milky sky-rivers.
He wanted to forge a settlement of other Graces
for infinities to come.
To keep strong the pillars on which poetry’s continent lay suspended
he envisaged a church even near the Wells-O-Death
and tried fixing a churchbell of illumination onto those too.
So if you ever hear the tolling of church bells across the universe
understand your rebirthing arrangements have begun.
*Grace a.k.a Maanik Godgate was a legendary Marathi poet known for his mystic, abstract and complex imagery-filled poetry. Celebrated as a poet’s poet, his poems were immortalized in Hrudaynath Mangeshkar’s films. ‘Churchbell’ is a contemplative set of biographical essays by him, written after he was diagnosed with a life-taking illness. This title is a take on that, and his life.