Earlier this year The Willowherb Review invited four writers of colour to create new work inspired by Epping Forest and the natural world.
Over the coming weeks we are going to take a closer look at the works created and the writers behind the words. The first writer in this series is Pratyusha. Watch a short film about Pratyusha and her writing here.
Read Pratyusha's poem below.
making less of the body / worlding: the swallowing of green light
the thin fog of a season’s turn / pungent fragrance in Epping, nineteen
translation as a means for survival / terrestrial seeking what-has-been
fleshy fibres separating skin / roots of blood-current
veins / moss glimpsed through protective barriers, your thin skin
masquerading parchment / felled branch landing into a blueprint
new reckonings through the smell of birch / deodar-song or.
brief loss, trying not to count / mapping leaves & dull brown
collateral damage we could never unsee / overhead, turned down
some forests remind you of other ones / existing in myth
& song / remember the thirteen-year-exile that the five brothers lived
& two women / hidden & lacquer-painted, switched & mimicked
it was a kind of healing perhaps to live other lives / shadowy endurance
I imagine tropical summers yellow & hot / pouring through oak and pine
sap remembers everything / vernalisation of negations & shrines
we could (n)ever? / think corporeal. paddle downforest
luminescent glimmer of presence / cool lungs & a wren singing
collapse into the familiarity of hand-holding / my dear it is composing
The reference to the ‘five brothers and two women’ is an allusion to the story of the Pandavas, from the Mahabharata (a Sanskrit epic poem). These allusions are to various events that occur in the tale, such as when the Pandavas escape a lacquer-painted (and thus highly flammable) palace. ‘Switched and mimicked’ alludes to one of the brothers cross-dressing during a year in exile.
Pratyusha is an Indo-Swiss postgraduate student based in London. Her pamphlet, Night Waters, was published by Zarf Poetry in 2018. She co-edits amberflora, an eco/world poetry zine, at https://www.amberflora.com.