Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

“Once this Mist Clears” and other poems

Dileep Jhaveri
Mumbai, India


Poet’s statement: As a poet, however one may await inspiration as a chosen one, writing poetry is a matter of conscious decision. The work of the poet requires a close acquaintance with the literature of the world and other forms of art. Just as the healing touch of the physician is secured after years of study, accumulating experience both of success and failure, earning the pleasure of poetic moments requires burning oil for several midnights. These poems explore the relationship between life and poetry on one hand and the personal with the universal on the other. “Once This Mist Clears” has love as its centre. But the life of the one wanting to love is fragmented in ordinariness, boredom, and melancholy. Searching for allusions from nature for these feelings, a pattern emerges, corresponding with the interior of a house (or mind) and environment (or universe). Clearing of the mist also reveals love at its innermost. The poem “Lips and Tongue” is a deliberate exercise, like an experiment in pharmacology. The association between lips and tongue is viewed in various perspectives. Surprises await through alterations, like adding or replacing a molecule in a chain or rotating an isomer. “I Did Not Know” is an exploration of a world where man is not at the core. The dynamic stream of evolution here is not only from one species to another, but also from feeling to aesthetics, from perception to poetry. This is how scientific training extends horizons of the poetical process and enhances aesthetic responsibility.


Once this mist clears

Once this mist clears
will I see the mountain ranges beyond
with dense treetops and waterfalls along the slopes?
Will I see the birds? The stars? The clouds?
The lighted windows of the town?
The bakery? The pavement?
The solitary finger tapping on the door?
The palpable darkness?
The darkness holding the shroud of mist?

Once this mist clears
will I see ice blue air and topaz sky
and curling smoke from the chimneys?
An eternity has festered within this dreary room
littered with hulking chairs
disarrayed desk, quotidian carpet, meek curtains
vacuous vessels, scruffy shelves and maudlin mirrors
surviving in silent cacophony of lifeless existence

When this mist clears
I want to emerge in simple words
that vibrate
like a trill from trickling faucet
swirl like steam from a coffeepot
float like dust in sunbeam
slip softly from lonely lips
and say I love you
to no one in particular
but to everything



Untitled, ca. 1935-36
Rabindranath Tagore
Colored ink and poster color on paper
14.2” x 12.4”


Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Ink on paper

Before writing poetry

One must learn many languages
before writing poetry

The language of shadows and scents
to know separations and absences
Language of rusted wheels and sharp arrows
to understand inertia and starvation

The language of roof holes
speaks of searches by inquisitive sunbeams
The patchy speech of lost walls
has retained the damp songs of raindrops

Winds know the language of desert and sea
and keep a constant correspondence with sand
But the language of dust
spreading quietly through window crevices
on windless nights is known to sand only

My footprints make the dust wordy in darkness
Being deaf to silence
I look for you
Poetry, are you there?


Lips and tongue

For the blind lips
the tongue is eye
It shows them what they think is world
but actually a word

From the wound of lips
oozes word
like blood
The tongue throbs inside

Words passionately kiss melting lips
leisurely inside
The tongue licks
at the sound

The lips close in sleep
Open in dreams
The caged tongue
cannot tell the difference

The lips move apart
to let the tongue fly
But inside the palate is sky
and the sea is saliva

The word is dough
kneaded by tongue
The lips suffuse life breath
emerges incorporeal sound


Untitled, ca. 1929-30
Rabindranath Tagore
Ink on paper
13.4” x 16.6”



Untitled, 1928
Rabindranath Tagore
Ink on paper
13.6 x 8.6 cm



Happiness is a pockmarked stone
on a rocky shore under cloudy sky
submerged in weedy waves
rushing to dump debris
momentarily visible when the waters abate
before another breaker comes crashing

When the sea ebbs away
the deformed community of happiness is laid bare
strewn with skeletons of scallops, starfish, starved crabs
grayish algae
shards of silica
rotten driftwood
Nothing of the familiar life can be recreated
No appetite can be satiated
No hurt can be avenged
No resurrection can be hoped

Tide returns and on the momentarily seen porous stone
from occasionally parted clouds
a sunbeam settles
like a disappearing daffodil


I did not know

I did not know that I was a bird
because my knee was locked in pain
Otherwise I would have spread my wings
to show off my treillage textured feathers

I did not know that I was a flower
because my tympani were slow to vibrate
Otherwise I would have uttered words
that reverberate in the shades of seasons

I did not know that I was a fish
because pearls had started to emerge in my eyes
Otherwise I would have led spring water
to leap over playful polyphonic pebbles

I did not know that I was a dream
because haunted by insomnia and ogres
I shuffled from forests to deserts
while lascivious nights awaited me

I did not know that I was a poet
because trismus tethered my tongue
while risus sardonicus stretched open my lips
and my convulsions were capering in captivating rhymes and rhythms


Untitled, ca. 1929
Rabindranath Tagore
Colored ink and pastel on paper
14.7” x 27.6”



DR. DILEEP JHAVERI is a practicing general physician based in Thane, near Mumbai, and a well-known Gujarati poet and playwright. He has published one collection of poetry in Gujarati entitled Pandukavyo ane Itar (1989) and a play Vyaasochchhvas (2003), which has subsequently been translated into English as A Breath of Vyas by Ms. Kamal Sanyal. In addition, many of his poems have been anthologized, and his poetry has been translated into English, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Bengali, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. He has received the Critic Award (1989), Jayant Pathak Award for Poetry (1989), and the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad Award (1990). Inside India, he has been invited to read his works by the Central and State Sahitya Akademis, Universities, and literary groups. He also has been invited to read widely abroad including at the Asian Poets’ Conference in Korea in 1986, Taiwan in 1995, and such other countries as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Most recently, he was invited to read his poetry in the U.S. by Georgetown University and South Asian Language Association for the organization’s 2009 convention. Dileep Jhaveri serves on the editorial boards of Museindia.com and the Kobita Review.



Timelessness of the intangible: an interview with Dileep Jhaveri


Highlighted in Frontispiece Summer 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 3
Summer 2012  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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