Skip to content

A lesson in poetry appreciation

Two poems by Pratishtha Pandya

Kanchan Chander, ‘Drawing 7’, acrylic and pen on paper, 4×6″, 2018

A lesson in poetry appreciation


I wish I can teach you

How to hold my poems

You hold them as if

you were not holding them at all

You let the petals breathe

a bit longer in your cupped palms

In the tender light of your love

Orange and white Parijaat blossoms

You gently pick each one

Word by word

One at a time

And inhale the scent

in long deep breaths

As if you were smelling it for the very first time

As if you were trying to memorize the smell

As if you were trying to reach someone by smelling it.


I wish I can teach you

How to taste my poems

How to pluck the right notes

Distinguish dark purple ones,

almost black ones

The long and ripe ones

From the small, dark red, unripe ones

Savour the silky-smooth shiny Jamun skin

On your lips

Before you dig your impatient teeth into

The succulent, translucent pink and white insides

Smelling of spices and dark earth

You need to be really patient with these poems

Open your heart

To the astringent sweetness

Before your kalakhatta stained tongue

Falls in love with its colours

And let an Indian summer

Blossom inside your mouth.




“પેલીની સાથે તારો સંબંધ શું છે, કહે તો?”


(What is your relationship with her?)

My poems often ask me

Curious and insecure

They want to know

which language I am really serious about

My English ones wonder

why I sometimes write in one

but speak in another

Gujarati ones don’t understand

(why I even need more than one)

હું છું તો બીજીની શું જરૂર છે?


why I need one as much as the other.

Is it about excitement

or just nature

or some vicious design

that drives you?

I say, I don’t know.

પણ એ બેય માનવા જ તૈયાર નથી


(they are not just ready to accept it)

What makes that one

more attractive than me?

each one persists.

Is it her texture on your tongue

or my feel beneath your skin?

Is it about the smells that I bring along

or the silences she breathes in your lines?

what does really matter to you?

they keep asking.

Do you like to love in one

and curse in another?

Do you experiment with her

and trace the familiar pattern over here?

Or do you just know nothing

but absolute surrender?

I say, I don’t know.

Pratishtha Pandya is a poet and translator working across Gujarati and English, whose first collection “lalala…” (ળળળ…) has been published by Navjivan Samprat. She is a faculty member at the Ahmedabad University.