The Aroma of Darkness


Many a mouldy mantilla
surround the lights like a veil,
shapeless shores of myopia,
met me early in the trail.

To a lad with glassy countenance,
came a haze following the smoke,
a kinsman dubbed astigmia
to lend next layer to the cloak.

In the deepening ink of eventide,
hyperopia awaits like a nightfall,
like a bird entrapped in the middle
of a mountain and a squall.

But it pours more than it rains,
the haloed rainbows of headlights
on the roads hiss past with omens
of impending charcoal nights.

What is the aroma of darkness I ask,
What is the song of a burning sun?
Is it the world in a nebulous mask,
Or a cocoon the eyes can’t shun?


  1. This captures one of my deepest fears… and the aroma of darkness is not in the eye but in ones fears. It is in the simplest of poetic forms and yet is able to carry such a massive weight with it. I am reminded of William Blake:

    This Lifes dim Windows of the Soul
    Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
    And leads you to Believe a Lie
    When you see with not thro the Eye
    That was born in a night to perish in a night
    When the Soul slept in the beams of Light.

  2. As I read your excellent poem, I feared that it would, but hoped it would not be autobiographical. Your exchange with Bruce informs me otherwise. My own shortsightedness has improved with age. I hope that may be the case for you, Uma

    1. As it happens, Derrick, it is partially autobiographical. The rest, as Bruce has said, is a projection of the deepest fears. I am glad your short-sightedness has improved.

  3. I always thought the Impressionist were nearsighted…seems poets lean more toward farsighted. I miss my close-up vision more than I ever missed my faraway vision.
    Sorry the time has come for you. You have welcomed it beautifully with your words, Uma 🙂

    1. God knows, Vicki, I could use both far vision and near vision. How else can one enjoy photography? Fortunately, I may go in for transplants in a decade or so.

  4. Oh Uma Shankar, I think I will need to call my Ophthalmologist son to understand all these vision related terms! Beautiful poem, so many words that point to events in the past few days, the pouring rains in Mumbai, the smoke of the bush fire in Sydney……and when all is said and done, hindsight is twenty twenty. Once again, a brilliant one.

    1. Isn’t it strange, Shubha, that both fire and flood torment humans instead of cancelling each other out? And that my eyes are both shortsighted and farsighted?

  5. I am so sorry to hear you have myopia. I have an idea about what it means to live in a shaky foggy world since my daughter has learned to live in such a world three years ago. To compensate your eyesight you are bestowed with senses beyond ordinary. Don’t you ‘see’ more than most of people? 🙂 Sending you best wishes.

  6. This is my second time reading this one. There is something about it. The honesty, I suppose.
    Sight, worries about sight, challenges, sadness….it’s all here and I understand and feel you.
    I wonder how you managed to write it beautiful. I suppose the part of you that can write about flickering vision and take some good from it–

    1. The troika of maladies has brewed up an ominous cocktail. Having bled loads of money in ‘progressive, high defnition spectacles’ and yet feeling uncomfortable, I have come to the realisation that the condition is incurable after all. Thank you for those kind words.

  7. Your ability to elevate the mundane and confer a profundity upon it never ceases to amaze me. So many people must have gone out to wear spectacles without a second thought to it. But you have managed to reflect at depth upon this and its implications. Definitely remarkable.

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