Because All Is Not Lost: Verse On Grief, published by Modern History Press (2010), is one woman’s celebration of love for those she had lost, but whose influence continues to touch her life. Ms. Vikram’s twenty poems do not dwell under the mourning veil. They speak of never-ending life in memories, hope, and inspiration, even skeptics, like myself, can appreciate and respect. The deaths of Sweta’s paternal grandfather, Dada, and her mother’s elder sister, Mausi, have deeply influenced the author and her writing. She says, I feel my Dada and Mausi’s absence every single day… But these two losses have taught me that their time had come. And that life is about celebrating those alive.
Her prose piece, A note to the biggest thief in this world, resonates with me the most. It protests against loss. Its universality of words goes beyond loss through death. It can also relate to those who have suffered from any situation beyond their control, whether human or nature related. But the message here is the same – the transcendence of suffering through hope and Sweta does it eloquently throughout, and especially in her final paragraph:
There will be silver rain. Frost will flow. The apple tree will bloom.
And you, ‘loss,’ will become insignificant as our hearts and minds hold
you by the toes and toss you – far away from the lantern of hope, so
you don’t regenerate like a lizard’s tail.
In The myna, Sweta shares a lesson of hope that can be told to either child or adult. The poem, set in a parable-like fairy tale, depicts the wisdom of the myna, an Asian bird known to mimic human speech. The bird tells the author not to hide in a state of unhealthy thoughts, but to seek out solutions instead:
The myna told me:
What you have here
is unhealthy. You can’t live
in the woods. Not like this
where you hide when the trees
make serpentine movements
and the night tip-toes to the winds.
The myna said:
The moon sings a ballad,
hoping one of the jackals
might be a good germ.
Dig a way out
of the tunnel. Find
the frog, yes frog,
who might just be your prince.
The night does not have to smell
of burnt pork when there is honey.
Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s Because All Is Not Lost: Verse On Grief shares her personal loss and, in return, comforts the reader. Her beautifully crafted poems take the reader on a voyage that “has to be undertaken by each of us individually.” Life must ‘live on’ – the fabric of memories and hope is woven in love, as long we surmount the negative aspects of loss. Because there is hope, death cannot win and this is the biggest lesson we all can learn from the author.
Patricia Carragon is a New York City poet and writer. Her publications include Poetz.com, Rogue Scholars, Poets Wear Prada, Best Poem, Big City Lit, CLWN WR, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Ditch Poetry Magazine, Mobius the Poetry Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Marymark Press, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press). She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. Patricia hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of the annual anthology.