Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Names of Gods and other poems - rdp ralte


The Names Of Gods

on your walls are gods i do not worship
but when you pray
i see we pray for the same things

rain for our fields
sun for our flowers
deliverance from our sins

so does it matter
if you pray with your palms facing heaven
or if i pray with them joined tight close

when you shake my hand and i shake yours
do i ask for the name of your god
or you, mine

between my prayer and yours
must we argue
which one rises and which one falls

when we are only men
of equal faith and different beliefs
travelling myriad roads converging to one soil

and however different the names
of our creator is
you and i are one believer

and the form and shape and name
of religion is many, but faith is faith
and i hope your prayers are answered

                            ~ ~ ~

Six Letter Drink

i change my mind every two hours, three on a wednesday
my favourite colour goes from red to green like a road signal
and i prefer tea to coffee because the first time i was made
to spell the word coffee
it went something like K-O-F-I
it didn't sound funny to me that i spelled out something
the way it was pronounced
but i can still hear the giggling crowd
who were too kind to laugh out loud at the child who
couldn't understand things just by looking at the sound.

so at the height of three foot tall
i saw nothing was ever the way it seemed
and i learned without being taught
that i had to be careful and cautious with the C
and i knew without being told that if i didn't want
to feel so small
i could prefer tea to coffee because hopefully
i wouldn't mess up with a three letter drink.

or i could pretend to love chemistry just to prove
that i knew it doesn't spell with a K
or i could go back and realize sooner that everything
becomes something else when you look closer
and prepared myself to be mispronounced and misspelled
but nothing could change the fact that i had to go
by the book
or else i would no longer be the smartest kid in class
and people would wonder what went wrong.

follow your heart, they said, but don't go too far
not as far as to rewrite the rules of K and C
follow your dreams, they said, but keep track of the
economy and dream accordingly
they praised my paintings on the weekend but on
all the other days
they reminded me that by the height of five foot three
i should be a doctor with a C. Because that is what
success sounds like.

so at the height of four foot something
i traded colour pencils for a book of instructions and formulae
and i sold my dreams with all their wings
and bought a degree and starbucks coffee
but trust me, they smelt like the common sense i lost
and the freedom i had never known.

so at what height of something foot tall
will i grow out of a confusion so small
and understand the seven letters that make all
the difference between Coffee and Kofi
and it really was just a small dislocation of the jaws
so couldn't you have let me, just for once, bend that small law
and hear me spell the way i understand......for god's sake i
was three foot shy. that was my cup of kofi
and you ruined it for me.

now i am five foot nothing and you call me deformed
because i refuse to conform with your C.

                                   ~ ~ ~ 

my mother prays when she wants to curse
and my father jokes when he wants to fall apart
and their daughter writes a poem
every time she excruciatingly despises life

                         ~ ~ ~

in the culture of my father
praise is a flood
that drowns a man in his death bed
and flowers are language
most earnestly spoken at funerals

                             ~ ~ ~

rdp ralte (Rodingpuii) published her first collection of poetry called "Secondhand Scars" in 2019.  On the 11th June 2022, she released her second collection titled "Guest of Eden." The four poems here come from the new book. 

It is such a pleasure having an addition to the still very small body of work that is Mizo writing in English.

                                          Cover art: Lalnunsangi Khiangte (rivca)