Jeet Thayil (born 1959 in Kerala) is an Indian poet, novelist, librettist and musician. He is best known as a poet and is the author of four collections: These Errors Are Correct (Tranquebar, 2008), English (2004, Penguin India, Rattapallax Press, New York, 2004), Apocalypso (Ark, 1997) and Gemini (Viking Penguin, 1992). His first novel, Narcopolis, (Faber & Faber, 2012) was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
Two reasons I like writing sonnets—
and why two, why not fourteen
reasons, the shape compact and clean
on the page, why not, since we’re on it?
Well, one, I like the way it leads
you by the hand down the stair
of the page, leaves you resting on air
as on an armchair, while someone reads
to you the words you want to own.
Two, I want to say something about bliss.
I like bliss. And if I had to narrow it down
to a couplet, I’d narrow it down to this:
You start with a line and follow it through,
the sonnet writes the sonnet, not you.
Let’s say you’re not opposed to the ghost
In principle, you understand her neediness,
Let’s say she’s distracted, or busy,
She’s busy looking for a way back in,
But from there the shore appears distant,
Not to mention, impossible to attain,
A far-off place where her former friends
No longer speak her name, which is lost,
And no word she hears will be audible,
Not through the static and clatter;
So let’s say you forget to speak her name,
You do not repeat her lovely name,
Because your talk is of meat and money,
And let’s say you’re not crazy or bitter,
It’s just that you don’t want to hear her say,
Why, why didn’t you look after me?