Southbank Centre: What can you see from your window right now?
Pratyusha: I'm with my family in Switzerland during this lockdown. I can see the view that I've grown up with: my neighbour's house, the valley below. There are two tall Lombardy poplars now, coming into leaf, the first verdant green of spring. I love watching the young leaves ripple in the wind. As a child I would watch full moons and crescent moons that perched high between the two trees. Two nights ago a pink moon bloomed between them.
Do you have a favourite season?
It used to be autumn, but now it's the transition between spring and summer. Days bleed into night; I love feeling the sun on my back, my legs; it's mango season; gardens are fragrant and in full bloom. The warmth makes me so much happier, being able to spend hours outside, languorous in the melting gold of the light. It's just before the merciless heat of the summer, but hot enough that you can wear cool linen, hear frogs croaking at night, smell the day's heat rising from roses at 10pm.
Have you got a favourite tree? Perhaps a second favourite?
I'm always dreaming about my favourite trees:
- the banyan's ancestral roots, its wide-ranging vein-like structures
- the oak: I spent summers as a child collecting acorns and was reminded of that when I watched My Neighbour Totoro recently
- spruce trees, which grow in abundance in Switzerland
- the gulmohar tree, 'flame-of-the-forest', mirage-like colour on a hot, dusty summer day
- glimpsing the moon through the palm tree's fronds
Could you perhaps share with us a writing prompt, that may help us to bring the outside into our own spaces?
A dreamscape: meet a person in a dream-garden. What is the garden like? Who are you meeting? What plants surround you? What do you speak about? How does the dream change colour and form?
following the capacity for light/ among these heady grasses
green and guessing, warm / soft and ready to rise again, soft
and ready to sleep again/ what vernal shadows exist in flux
meeting is also bridged under-dream-water/ tremulous & floating on a block of ice
have we met in the in-between/ where you are awash with sleep & where your
memory curls into light and crashes through/ years of glassy reincarnation
what talk of transformation/ we talk of renewal, of bringing everything back
luxuriant and drunk on colours/ this gold of autumn crackling on a frail snare
our own attention dulled and/ flailing at the storm’s edge, besieged
every whisper split into fragments of mirror/ am I asleep or erased
how easy is it to resurrect this dream/ where these textures feel like skin
narration is an imprint and a tied growth/ slipping into an endless circle
‘stilltime’ was originally published in Sluice Magazine. Pratyusha’s forthcoming pamphlet Bulbul Calling is available for preorder with Bitter Melon.
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