(for Maryam Mirzakhani)
The shortest distance between two points
Is a space of un-freedom.
A straight line is not reality. It is boredom made
Ask any lover what it takes. Ask a free bird if he ever walks straight.
The route is usually jagged, curved, crisscrossing, zig zag,
Drawn in beautiful geodesic parabolas
Lines that (sometimes) meet each other, like people, and then again depart,
Birds or planes, made after birds,
In mid- early or late- flight.
Ask mother how long it takes to reach her son
Living in the next room.
Ask two warring co-workers, next to each other in the cubicle,
What invisible fields of light, heat, current, intersect
Before they look eye to eye.
Ask two politicians, if they ever see their roads meet as a right angle.
Yet, we persist, in fooling ourselves, in maps,
In the troubled spots of the heart, in prayer
And music, as if the best way to get anywhere
It is the spirit of our times.
While patience and wonder come with quest.
But how then, do they (really) curve?
What goes on, before the lines turn straight, or do they?
Why does the solitary morning walker go back and forth, and take strange turns?
If you drew a line of his path, your eye would draw fifteen million circles of the sun
Before you knew how his synapses lapse
And what is truly beautiful –
Picasso’s cubes, the lonely points of Seurat
Or Maryam’s flying doodles.
Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, Nepal, the UK, Hong Kong, South Africa, Kenya and the USA, including the anthologies Forty under Forty: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala, 2016) and A Change of Climate (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and University of Edinburgh, 2017). He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.