beauty

sometimes i wish
i were wildly beautiful
– that perfect image
of physical loveliness,
construed by my beauty-loving mind
hanging,
as a magnificent backdrop
to the enactments of my imagination.

how powerful is beauty!
how vivid, willful, alluring
irresistible!
your heart reminisces of weakness
and you can almost sympathize,
almost forgive
those men and women, numberless
who lied, cheated, betrayed,
killed
bewitched as they were, by that lovely enchantress;
that face, those eyes, those lips,
that hair
skin, waist, neck, arms, legs, fingertips
so perfect, so captivating,
you feel you could go on looking forever
enraptured,
and enslaved.
oh yes, it is a great gift indeed
a great power
to be beautiful.

and then, there is that beauty
which cannot be seen
cannot be touched, caressed
felt in your hands, traced with your fingers
does not bedazzle,
does not besot, so instantly
as a graceful figure, a white skin, a Raphael profile
but glows, gently
permeates, effuses
a halo of Madonna-light
like an enchanted fairy-circle.
blurred, soft
you cannot make out the face
the features,
or perhaps you do not notice
or perhaps you do, but it matters little
there is something deeper
something farther down
you want to grasp, you grasp to see, you venture
to discover, curious
flitting before you
an elusive will’o wisp
in a tunnel, a cave, a labyrinth
strewn with puzzles, and clues
and four-leaf clovers, and purple forget-me-nots
and lanterns, and ladybirds
and the patter of little invisible feet
scurrying behind a bush, or a toadstool
a sky in perpetual twilight
whispering with waking stars
footprints, echoes
silver-tinkling bells
and wandering strains of a lute…
and you wander, deeper,
and deeper
lost in a maze of misty wonder,
unravelling childhood
bewildered, enthralled
leaving, leagues and leagues behind
the memories of the chiselled nose,
the finely sculpted forehead,
the ocean blue eyes, the raven hair
landmarks that led you nowhere
sceneries that pleased your eyes,
your senses maybe
but ended where they began
like the backdrop of a play,
an exquisite painting, which you admired, coveted
loved even –
but there was only so much to see
so much your eyes could traverse,
and for so long.
no quest, no adventure
no mystery, no buried treasure
like the holy grail dropping from the sky
into king arthur’s hands,
nothing to be found
nothing to be learnt
nothing to discover.

and someday, you would have to turn back
at the end of that picturesque path,
and take another, longer, narrower,
windier, darker maybe
through the chasms, and valleys
and mountain passes
of soul
an explorer, a sailor, a pioneer
in that vast, intractable native land
of wild-dew beauty
illumined by a light
that came from, you know not where…
somewhere, in the heart of the jungle, on a misty mountain peak
in a secret temple
guarded by tigers, possessed by Nature
where forms and figures
earth and clay, flesh and body
melt away,
like paint in water,
dissolved into whiteness
and only Light remains
undying, raw, brilliant
now fiery, now a lamp,
now crimson,
now gold
now a streak,
now sunrise
a million moods, a million shades, reflections, images
enveloped in one rich, luminous spirit
singularly beautiful.

i still sometimes wish,
i were wildly beautiful
but it means something else now;
now, as i leave the precincts of my face
my hair, my body
and venture inward
with soft, ginger steps
into that dusty, leaf-swept temple
and light the ashen torches
my soul is suddenly ablaze with passion
and the visions, the spectres of beauty
fade away, in the infinite brilliance
of inner Light…
will you follow?

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