He is a poet, whose vision eludes simplistic modernist labels and equations. His poetry works include Poems, How Do You Withstand, Body and Mirrored Mirroring. His plays include Princes, Savaksa and Mr Behram. A doctor by profession, Gieve Patel has also worked as a medical practitioner, in urban and rural India. He is a writer and painter, with three books of poems At Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, he conducts an annual poetry workshop for school students. He is considered to be one of India’s most important painters (of the generation that first came to public notice in the seventies). He is hardly an avant-garde writer, and he does not pretend to be one. The enduring concerns in Patel’s poetry, are the besieged terrain of the human body, its absurdity and perishability.

POST MORTEM – It is startling to see how swiftly a man may be sliced from chin to prick, how easily the bones he has felt whole under his chest for a sixty, seventy years may be snapped, with what calm, liver, lung and heart be examined, the bowels noted for defect, the brain for haemorrhage, and all these insides that have for a lifetime, raged and strained to understand be dumped back into the body, now stitched to perfection, before announcing death, due to an obscure reason.

HOW DO YOU WITHSTAND, BODY? – How do your withstand, body, destruction repeatedly aimed at you? Minutes, seconds, like gun reports, tattoo you with holes. Your area of five by one is not room enough for the fists, the blows. All instruments itch to make a hedgehog of your hide. It’s your fate, poor slut: To walk compliantly before heroes! Offering in your demolition a besotted kind of love: Dumb, discoloured, battered patches. Meat-mouths for monsters’ kisses.

EVENING – Our English host was gracious, we were soon at ease. Or almost: the servants were watching.

OLD MAN DEATH’S – There may be a very small comfort in knowing yourself finally useless, when even grandchildren have grown beyond your love, and your would-be widow has outhobbled you and wont be around to break with pne or two of her last thick tears, and not caring much for your fellowmen, the doctors wont get your body, to know how simply you will be bundled away, startling a lifelong friend who finds, he cannot mourn at the quick and easy changes: a sprinkling of water, the disappearance of an odour, a turn of bed-sheets, leaving a bed, a chair, perhaps a whole room, with clarity in them.

IT MAKES – It makes sense not to have the body seamless, hermetically sealed, a non-orificial box of incorruptibles. Better shot through and through! Interpenetrated, with the world. Air mists my lymph. Ex cretion, degrading routine, gives the world passage.I am a bead. Sorted, thumbed, threaded, stru ng, fingered (did you say) by threads of all hues, riddled through, happily.

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