Shelly Narang

I. Witness Should I become totally serene, Should I use this isolation to make more money? Do I have to maximize its benefits By using this time to work even more, or write the bestselling next novel Or engage in some culinary megalomania? No! Just sit and unlearn, Some old outgrown ideas, That you are nothing if not productive, That productivity equals happiness, That the most important unit is the single self. That you are at your best when you resemble an efficient machine. Hear, until the push of the remote leaves a dead quiet behind,a loneliness that hums as the heart anchors. Be still as the white birch, Stunned by what you see, Uselessly shedding your coils of paper skins Because it gives you something to do. Meanwhile, know that your fears, Your terror, your shifting moods, Your need for a smile have every right to be here, And are no less sacred than a course completion. Whoever you are, no matter how broken, the world still has a place for you, calls to you over and over announcing your place as legit, as forgiven, even if you fail and fail and fail again. Remind yourself over and over, all the swells and storms that run through your long tired bodyall have their place here, now in this world. It is your birth right to be held deeply, warmly in the family of things, not one cell left in the cold. II. Imprints My first memory is of light, I don't know how old I was, for it was In that magical crack Of life's dawn where Clocks and calendars And measures that cut The body and compartmentalise the soul And twist it, till it fits A perfect shape, Did not yet exist. It is only a flash A nanosecond recollection Of a ray of sun resting On the floor But I'm more sure of it Than anything I've known Or felt since, even breath. Let them not tell You your first memory is a lie Let them not trample On its immeasurable significance Let them not sever the Ties that bind you to wonder And imagination and the startling Breath stopping brilliance of the universe. Claim your memories Begin with the first. Give yourself the Permission to trust and be broken, And heal and grow, give yourself thePermission to be different To look in the mirror and see The complex, myriad Selves that gush out like the smell Of wild roses, beyond society And polite conversation, Embrace your face in the light Then embrace it in the darkness too. Shelly Narang is currently working as Assistant Professor in English Literature in a College affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh where she teaches poetry to postgraduate students. She has been a Teaching Assistant in University of Texas, Austin under the Fulbright FLTA Program in 2008. She was also shortlisted as a fellow at IIAS, Shimla for my proposed project on a Narratological Study of North Eastern Women Writing. Having completed her Doctoral program in Gender studies, she has been publishing research papers primarily in the area of Women's Literature and Gender Studies. She also purses poetry and has published in journals like Muse, Thrush, Red River Review and in several other anthologies. She recently published an academic book titled 'The Eternal Homelessness: Unchanging Narrative of Contemporary Indian Women.'