Before There Was Ever a You or an I
When the self vanishes, the world takes its place. As Li Po said, ‘I sit, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains’. Rachna sits, the paper and her, ‘Every dawn spent on an ocean made of paper plane, paper white/My pencil the mast and the spaces between my thoughts the sails/ To catch the winds…’. And her sitting is an invitation that the winds might gather and coalesce into a poem that may take us with it into the world before it was filtered through the prism of thought.
Poetry is not an escape into an imaginary world; it is a portal from the imaginary world in which we move without realising it, into the real world in which we live without seeing it. Each of Rachna’s poems is one such portal. We follow her into the eyes of her companion, ‘Into the untamed majesty/Of wild, notionless beauty…’; we taste iridescent, iris blue; we become the horizon; our body dissolves in transparency and luminosity; we find our self repeatedly ‘arriving at the slow caressed/Cocooning of beingness’.
As Kathleen Raine wrote in her exquisite meditation on the surrender required for truly intimate relationship, ‘I am the way to die’. In Rachna’s poems we disappear with her again and again. We slip beneath the surface of the world, ‘falling/Falling/But what was left to even fall into/Other than falling into us?’
And we find ourself, not on the shore of another world, but in this world, each time as if for the first time. The world is not what we see; it is the way we see.
Each of Rachna’s poems is a love poem into which we, the beloved, are drawn time and again, an invitation that ‘vanishes itself and us/Into the magnificence of nothingness/Once its work is done’. We do not find ourself there in love; we lose ourself in love.
It is out of this love that Rachna’s poems blossom.
Rupert Spira, March 2022
Foreword to ‘The Uncountability of Love’
It is true, as Rupert puts it, that I am written by poems - these poem-teachers of mine that visit, mostly unannounced, finding their way through my tip-tapping fingers on to the stark white pages of now two books. This new collection of poetry, called ‘The Uncountability of Love’ is a coalescence of their visitations over the last 5 years and is adorned with a cover by German artist Catrin Welz-Stein, which depicts the impersonal gaze shared between a beautiful woman, who embodies a calm, natural abundance, and a friendly bird, with turquoise and sky-blue coloured feathers, who sits on her hand. The book is named after a rather koan-sounding mathematical theorem, called the uncountability of real numbers, and begins with a chapter that gives thanks to the poems themselves, in the way that prasad is first offered to a deity before it is shared with others, because the act of writing remains a delicious mystery to me, and for which I remain eternally grateful. They surprise me when they first appear, these poem-teachers of mine, and they manage to surprise me even upon re-reading them, as if I were seeing them for the first time:
And here we are
Again, that time of day
I sit, and unclutter myself of myself
A mug close, cloud-light milk
Steam rising and an ease taking over
My ears loan out their listening to my toes
My eyes, my sight to my skin
My senses, all cloud-light
As you take us on some other adventure
Always the road less travelled
How you seem to find one, every time?
And my fingers move like an octopus with a twitch
Its black ink scrawling across an ocean floor of white
And when you start
I am always the last to know how it will end
But I know when you are close
And relish our little note-booked journeys
So thank you again
For today’s rain-topped revelation.
I then invite the reader to join me on an intimate journey, through chapters such as, ‘Eyes, oh those eyes’ and their gaze of love, to ‘Love and other such beautiful truths’:
A rare share of something near to blue
A pigment ever so rarely seen
It caught me, and not just my breath
Unsure how to name it
Closer I ventured, closer still
My heart’s lens microscopic
Devouring its play with the light
Angular shelves forging shades anew
Receptive it was
Widening with our intimacy
Until the black abyss of your iris
Pulled me in
Has never let me go.
Falling into Us
As moonlight we were
That night, captured
Outside the vertigo
That catches most
With gravity too having abandoned us
Yet somehow, we were falling
But what was left to even fall into
Other than falling into us?
And we then journey back out to the world in the form of reflections on the year that was ‘Twenty Twenty’, which includes also my experience of the joy of meditation, my ‘Dates at eight’. And a last-minute-but-meant-to-be-chapter that invited me, and invites us all to ‘Leave space for Ireland too?’:
Like the moment just before a kiss
Or the blink before our eyes meet
A little like after our touch disappears into itself
Or the unnumbered, unencumbered seconds
That hang lightly between
Turning from the last page, to this
To meet these letters assembled
Calling you to love lightly
Me, and more than me, You.
Bumble bee meditation
Like a pair of bumble bees
The yellow velvet chairs sit together in my house
Always happy to accommodate
My weighty yet ephemeral movements
Patiently they hold me
And whatever I cling to that day
Their buttery yellow warmth
And my contours eventually
Open and the entire sky comes in
Thoughts and their cousins now lift like paper-light kites
Ever long lines
But no anchor to be found
And off they go
(And they might well return too)
Leaving me exactly where and as I left myself
Before I forgot that I was ever here.
Being invited to witness
The marriage of the holy wilding waters
Of the Atlantic
And the body divine
Of the Irish coast
One of the holiest
Of this isle’s many hidden blessings
And an open invitation
To those who see
Even when walking
The gifts hidden in plain sight
The lightness of their being
And the beautiful blur
Of this one
Brush of beauty
All living lines betrothed
To the farthest most points
Yet even to be birthed into view
Where all clouded veils are lifted
And where the wise sky gives us her name too.
Like all good things that end, that are actually the beginning of something new, the final chapter of the book pulls up the anchor for you, the reader to begin your journey on your own uncharted poetic waters, sailing your ‘Paper boat’ through a few pages of perfect calm seas with just the right amount of wind for you to write down too, where the poems in this book have taken you.
If you would like to let me know what you feel when you read these poems (I love to hear back), please feel free to contact me here.
Rachna is a doctor by day, a poet by night and a truth lover all of the time. She grew up in a hindu household and was drawn to studying Vedanta in her late twenties. After attending the Dalai Lama's teachings she developed an interest in Buddhism and meditation. However, it was upon coming across the love poems of Rumi (quite by chance), that she was being pulled elsewhere and a passing mention of Rupert's name to her by a friend, brought her to the direct path.
Explore Rachna's website: swirlingleafpress.com