The dwindling wonder in her eyes

It was easy to evoke her awe and wonder
when she was a girl of eight, young and tender.
Her brilliant, opal eyes glowing with the
phosphorescent gleam of a storm-tossed sea –
turbulent, tremulous, achingly beautiful,
full of the opiate throb of young life.
Her fair face glistening with a warm, untaught
radiance of joy and bewilderment, at the
many tricks, jokes and nebulous aphorisms.

But gradually she grew.
The slender, care-free child in the white pinafore,
brimful of eagerness and ardour,
was transmuted into a graceful woman –
delicate, swan-like, with a full, drooping underlip
and gossamer threads of long silken hair.

And I saw the awe and wonder
flickering, quivering dangerously,
then ebbing slowly away,
replaced with a callous, shifty
amusement in her doe-like eyes,
candid and easy, yet uncanny, unpleasant,
as though she were mocking the old tricks
and jokes and witticisms, flung at her
with diminishing alacrity,
from the tired repertoire
of this decrepit shade
hovering listlessly,
curving backwards with
gnawing age and hideous ague.

She laughed – a boisterous, bustling, belly laugh
that echoed unabashed
in the sun-filled room
and mingled with the dispassionate patchwork
of the azure, autumnal sky without.

Her laughter fell like the ricocheting gunfire
of a thousand thudding guns – thumping, thunderous,
grating and sharp, smouldering hot,
lacerating the old flesh from the emaciated bones.
A laughter, jangling and melodious;
more jangling than melodious,
like the slow, fluttering, free-flowing
music of a gurgling brook
syncopated with instruments of discord.

Her eyes were the same – radiant, brilliant,
an unsure, undecided light grey.
But their look changed.
There was something there,
something so distant, so subtly snide;
enforcing a sense of heightened tangibility
of that, which lay encircled within.

All the warmth and tenderness,
all the awe and wonder,
were long drawn out, long gone.
I was chasing ghosts.
I was searching for the minutest dregs,
the faintest traces of spectral phantoms
in the urban lassitude of her eyes.
But all that I sought there
had long been blown away,
borne on the whirling winnowings
Of many a vernal wind.

And I stood motionless
with half-formed words teetering
on the edge of my lips,
awaiting utterance;
seeking that which can
never be sought.

I stood in front of her
with the faint dolour rising
in my parched throat,
bundling up the pale cadaver
that looked through my eyes.

I stood, engulfed and awash
with the loud, cold, full-throated laughter.
The dwindling wonder in her eyes,
a grotesque, mimesis of that
which I held so dear.

I shut my eyes to that rippling sound,
to the ungenerous favour of my
young, beautiful patroness.
I tried to summon the memory of that
myriad assemblage of the yellow,
sun-kissed summers of her childhood,
spent sitting on my knee, (now
enfeebled and bloodless).

“A fair dream to cling to…
A fair dream, this evanescent vision.
A fair dream for this ancient hominoid.
Hold fast, lest the shaking grasp should fail!
The dwindling wonder in her eyes,
The fretful misery of that sight
Cling to the fair dream, oh shade!
Cling to the fair dream.”

Aneesha Roy

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About Ijagun Poetry Journal

Ijagun Poetry Journal is a quarterly journal that provides a platform from which we can tell our own stories in the authenticity of their multiplicity through the poetic medium. We don’t want to hear these stories from our master “griots” alone; we want to hear from those mastering their art, too. Hence, we aim at publishing new and emerging poets. We also welcome the works of established poets in order to encourage the poetic genius of those mastering poetic art. We prize original works that conform to, break or reinvent conventions. Again, we accept reviews and critical essays on poetry. We also accept powerful art works and photographs that make us appreciate the "poetry" in everything.
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