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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 58-60

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from Water Is Water

Purna Bahadur Vaidya

Water to the Brim Spills Everywhere

Water to the brim
        spills everywhere
With barely a whis
        per--rippling it flees
With a finger's touch
        it's ready to empty itself
As unexpressed desire
        held back by ripples of shame
as unfettered youth
        ever eager to flow
at any time or place,
        brimming water spills
Before flowing
        it cannot decide
which way to go
        But, once it flows
retreat is out of the question
        Freed from its origins
its nature is to embody
        the pleasure of flowing
Topping the brim,
        it cannot stay
without moving [End Page 58]

The Restless Urge for Equality

Before moving water rounds itself
and begins to rise ever so slightly--
discerning where the land slopes before it,
where depths lie,
the world giving it flow, direction, speed
while always water's intention is to fill and swell,
while boundaries create you & me
where between yours & mine obstacles rise--it rebels,
gathering strength it flows,
and wherever it flows
as day follows day obstacles collapse,
boundaries are overcome
In the absence of boundaries and obstacles
we see wider land--where water calmly, naturally, moves on
This struggle reveals to me
that the character of the land is uneven
tempered by the speed of the flow
my innermost desire
is the equality I seek [End Page 59]

Mutual Quest

Unless I am
as naked as water,
I cannot sense
its touch throughout
my body
I experience the warmth,
the pressure
Through touch I know
my own heat
given over
What holds me fears
being fire, and
I fear those icy claws
To meet somewhere in between,
that is our mutual quest,
our meeting point

Translations by Wayne Amtzis and the author

Purna Bahadur Vaidya writes in the language of the Newars. His major work, La la kha (Water is water), is a collection of eighty-four poems "refracted through water" and written over a twenty-five-year period. Translations of his work into Nepali are collected in Poorna Baidya Kabita. Translations of his poetry into English can be found in A Representative Collection of Nepal Bhasa Poems and the Journal of South Asian Literature.

Wayne Amtzis is cotranslator of Two Sisters: The Poetry of Benju Sharma and Manju Kanchuli and From The Lake, Love: The Poetry of Banira Giri. His photos of Kathmandu appear in the collection flatLine witness. A book-length series of his poems and photos is forthcoming in Studies in Nepali History and Society.



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pp. 58-60
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