Shanta Acharya: Beyond the High Window

Shanta Acharya, born and educated in India, won a scholarship to Oxford, where she was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her study on Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was a visiting scholar at Harvard University before moving to London, where she lives. The author of eleven books, her latest is Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, India; 2017).


Shanta Acharya: Two Poems


An act of kindness never goes unnoticed,
the praise of prayer-wheels they say is heard from
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window.

In life’s intricate game of snakes and ladders,
winner takes it all, face against the sun framed in
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window.

When moonshine dances on the stained sun-kissed glass,
lovers like fire flies flock to worship at
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window.

Long as you keep your rainbow window open,
shafts of light will stream in like helping hands through
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window.

Hearts like mirrors can shatter hearing music.
One day songs will soar, flooding the gods, out of
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window –

my words one with the hum of the universe,
and the endless horizon glowing beyond
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe high window.


Brightly coloured posters of gods and goddesses
bathe in the light as rising spirals of incense

mingle with scent of musk melons in the market-
place. Arcs of desire bouncing behind bodices

distract from the arcane business of the day –
the purchase of perfectly ripe melons and lemons.

Luscious the sway of hips of heavenly creatures
with the look of flowers looked upon their faces.

Irresistible the rush of hormones, pheromones
when the body acquires a mind of its own.

Thrown into a state of confusion, a young man
possessed by an irrepressible desire

bends forward, legs crossing, re-crossing, half-kneeling
to redeem himself, smelling the lemons stacked

Pyramid-like, serendipitously provide
the cover he needed. Reviving from his fainting

spell, the world in his hands defying gravity,
levitates in the aura of gods and goddesses.




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