Water Child-A Ghazal*

by HemmingPlay

In Mystery

I was a relentless swimmer as a child, more at home
under the surface, leaving it only for air, wishing for gills.

In the pond’s murky realm a few feet down, the big bass, motionless,
eyes swiveling, waited for someone’s last mistake.

In the muddy shallows, the sun warmed the water most,
small things hatched, safe from mouths in the deep water.

Forests of fronds and grasses stretched toward the light,
and died, becoming the black ooze where biting things lived.

I lost it along the way, that simple way a child observes in wonder,
accepting in wisdom, the heavenly song of the world everywhere.

My job these days is to be the archeologist of my life, diving
over and over and staying down, wishing for gills and more time.

On soft summers’ nights, lovesick bullfrogs boomed at the edges.
A muskrat swam in the moonlight, wake effortlessly symmetrical.

_____________
*An attempt…. About the Ghazal form:

The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.

Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia, and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, a mix of the medieval languages of Northern India, including Persian. Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master.

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5 Responses to “Water Child-A Ghazal*”

  1. I have read this three times now. The first time out of curiosity, the second time to examine and understand the form, and third – strictly for pleasure. I enjoyed all of it, but I keep keying in on specific lines: “…becoming the black ooze where biting things lived.” and “My job these days is to be the archeologist of my life.” It took me until the second reading to understand the line “…safe from mouths in the deep water.” At first I thought, gross…but I get it now. Now I am going to research more on that Ghazal form. I too, wished for…gills and more time.” ~ Linda

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Linda. I actually didn’t start out to write this in the Ghazal style, but the first two lines sort of popped out as-is, and I remembered reading about Ghazal a few weeks ago and thought, “hmmmm, let’s see how this goes…” And by the 3rd or 4th couplet I was actually trying. It should have rhymes in there as part of the form, but I believe that’s only when written in Urdu or Persian. They give English writers a pass.

      It was fun to shed my adult ways and re-inhabit the mind of a child. I spent my formative years around and in that pond, summer and winter (when we ice-skated on it), and it was the source of endless fascination. It really was a laboratory, and as you see, lives still. (And yes, the thick black muck on the bottom was inhabited by all sorts of creatures, some of which bit my foot when I went to the bottom and stuck my toes down into it. 🙂 )

  2. You’re most welcome. I love hearing that you decided to try a new style, and as far as I’m concerned it was a success. I learn a new thing every day, and today – I learned from you.

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