Shirani Rajapakse

The Journey You tell me my sentencesare too long with no stops for breath.But I tell youthat it is so.The twists and turns of the roadwinding through open valleysthat lead straight into the orange red sun beckoningfrom the horizon lighting up the low shrubson either side golden, or ascending hills stretchingtheir necks to nuzzle against clouds,is long and far.I like traveling down the highway with no stops,only a few pauses to define the way.So please let me enjoythe journeyand my long sentences.I’ve a right to travelthis road or any path I desire.Just as you have the right to stop alongthe way, check into a room, enjoy a leisurely swim.We are two beings with as much right to be here.I with my long sentences;you with your pit stops.

Moving in another Plane I’m building a house in my mind,sturdy walls rising to touch clouds like lotusturning its face to the sun, intricate carvingon doors and wide open space all around.Sparkling white marble floorsstrewn with carpets of myriad huesfrom Samarkand.A teak staircasedeep golden brown like bees honey pouredfrom a jar over warm bread this morning.Comfortable sofas sprawledagainst the low partition in the living room,a piano at the sideopen and waiting for fingers to caress,curtains in brocade straining fromspacious windows flirtingwith winds whispering outside.Beautiful gardens beyond; deep green lawnswith grass mowed to justthe right height; a rowof multi colored crotons jostlingfor space with mango, jakfruit, beli and guava trees,a curious branch from the neighborsbreadfruit tree keen to join in.Bright pink bougainvillea running up wallsspreading overthe roof tiled in a traditional design.Looks like the embroidered chiffon saree I worelast night now heaped on a chair, the endslifting gently with breezes wafting inside.Two well behaved dogs doing onlyas they are told. My house is all built,ready and waiting.But I’m still stuck herein the present with my feet on the groundwalking slowly up and downthe old corridor in this silent place tryinghard to be in the moment.

Vipassana My foot lifts up, butis it really my foot? Fragments of sections, of flesh, bone, bloodlifts up in the shape ofwhat I have come to accept asa foot.Is it mine or someone else’s?Who can tell?It lifts then moves forward or remainsstill as the mind desires. The ego meanders in silence.No room for it here inside thishouse of contemplationas I lift, lift, lift,push, push, push and drop, drop, dropback to the floor, feeling the cold,the hardness and smoothness of cement.Tiny particles of sand poke their sharp edgesinto flesh at the side of my big toe.They must have hidden from the broom that sweptover the place this morning ormay have flown in unannounced with the breezesneaking in looking for a place to catch itsbreath before flying off to someplace else. Noting a pause in concentration as my mind glideswith the sensations around I realizemy feet have halted. Two tree trunks desperatelytrying to take root before my mindreturns to claim. It’s on to the nextfoot and the next step until the roomis covered and we’re back againwhere we started. On and on we travel, my ego and my legs,my consciousness moving us one step at a time,aware, oh so aware.

Shirani Rajapakse is an internationally published Sri Lankan poet and short story writer. Her publications include the award-winning Chant of a Million Women and I Exist. Therefore I Am. Rajapakse’s work also appears in Litro, Silver Birch, Linnet’s Wings, Deep Water, Mascara, Moving Worlds, Berfrois, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry, Counterpunch, About Place, Cyclamens & Swords, Asian Signature, Earthen Lamp, New Verse News, Voices Israel and Flash Fiction International.