Somewhere in the sunshine of the everlasting dawn

     from my airborne stance

I feel absorbed across the broad pavement.

Or am I dissolved in a voice

that can’t sever from its verse.


Am I adrift in my heritage? To shadow the breath

of our dear Guru Nanak. To hear him chant

     his om that balms

the rivers of old India. I sense his aura

     hold the wounded over water

till they’re healed.


In my suburbia, all around me,

the saffron trees are unearthly presences.

     They bow turn by turn

                        and seem to caress or bless

           with breeze and gentle leaf

each wearied pedestrian.


Have I become so numbed by routine

and the reasoned life

     that flecks from my past would ascend

from within to raise my flesh

  so it learns outright pain?

In my feeble conceits, am I haunted by obsessions

and can’t keep off the need to revive

the lost faith?

     My dire need to survive above the sphere.

The idea of the vision as practice charged into plenitude.


All that Sikhism charm from my childhood

     has me span the soul of Nanak

from Lahore to Harrow. His soul uprooting concrete

          so the nerves of the world are flexed

       and greened by the branches of his lungs.


His soul seems everywhere, guiding us to head

for the centre of this road

     where he has opened the earth

     so it spreads into a river gush.

Into which, are we are being lifted by the trees?

Could Nanak’s branch-arms haul us

     and wallow us in his equable waters,

return us freed

from the grief-ache?

So we’re built to withstand the ruin of sense.


From Daljit Nagra's British Museum (Faber 2017) with kind permission

Read more poetry by Daljit Nagra in our From the Archive series - Four Poems, from ALR14, Winter 2009

More Poetry

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