Meena Alexander on In the Dark of the Heart: Songs of Meera
How can you lose a book you love so much, one you are about to bring to a virtual book swap—just as soon as you touch it once more and open up the pages a crack and peek at the lines of the exquisite songs that the medieval poet Meerabai sang to her beloved Krishna? She was a wanderer and left house and home and in the end only her singing was able to save her.
Her clothes frayed and her long hair blew about her tired body and her feet were chapped. I have long been inspired by the songs of Meera and cannot imagine my life without her. I keep searching for the book, so I can touch the indigo covers—but in a few hours I leave for the airport for a long journey to Venice, to Marco Polo Airport. I will have to keep Meera’s music in my head. The poems are translated from Braj Bhasha by Shama Futehally: “Here she comes squeezing berries for Him / those which ooze are chewed, then spewed at him.” Perhaps when I look down through the windows of the plane I will see the shadow of that great singer, that wandering woman, crossing the borders between land and sea. Though we know of no sea voyages for her, she would have understood, I think, what Pound meant by “periplum.”