It’s interesting to note that many professional doctors today find time and energy to dabble in fiction and poetry as if after a long day in the intensive care unit the doctor needs to unwind with his imagination exploring the subtleties and mysteries of love through the medium of poetry.
Such a doctor is António Gomes, 68, a cardiologist at The Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York, who has now come out with a collection of poems titled Mirrored Reflections published in Goa, India. I say now because three years ago he’d published a novel The Sting of Peppercorns (2010), a story about spices and romance unfolding in the author’s village of Loutolim in Goa.
In this latest poetic effort, António lays bare his soul and his heart for the entire world to see, a brave move that only a deeply conscious and confident man would care to make. The collection is laid out in four parts—Stars, Stripes and Ragas, In Flight, Loving You, and On Angel’s Wings—a total of sixty poems spanning five decades of his lived experiences in his home state of Goa and elsewhere in Europe, North and South America.
He blends beautifully both prose and poetry to create snapshots of his travels, to reflect on love and its myriad nuances, to pay tribute to his family and friends, and to allow the reader an inside look into hospital rooms harboring patients of many diseases. This is indeed a bold poetic adventure the poet has undertaken and printed as a record for posterity.
António evokes his fond memories of Aldona, his mother’s village, and Loutolim, his father’s place, with undisguised pride and sentiment. In The Boys of Aldona he narrates the legend of St. Thomas, the patron saint of the church. I could relate to this story as I had visited the church in January 2004 in the company of my younger friend Cecil Pinto, a native of the village.
By far the most poetic flights of fancy and imagination are devoted to the section on love.
Here are three samples:
1. From Loving You
When lips touch petals, thorns and leaves,
Run down the bark and curl beneath the stem,
Loving what it tastes: rosemary, sage, lavender.
2. From Back in Time
She walked: a river by my side
I floated: a boat on her bosom
We loved to remake the world
Two indistinguishable shadows
Reflecting on walls of glass as one
3. From A Parting Phone Call
They can’t look into each other’s eyes.
This is a trans-Atlantic phone call.
Words are like bullets —
They make no sense, they sting,
They kill, what little is left.
As this issue of Tambdi Mati is devoted to the theme of Journeys, it only proper to include in this review a few snapshots in verse that António has penned around his world travels.
Far beyond — the waves splash
On this coast of Al-Gharb —
The Land Beyond the West
Its rocky coast the sea possessed
Cliffs and caverns dispossessed
Flaming red in the summer sunset
From A Bullfight in Madrid:
The Matador: tall, slick
Poised for the kill,
With grunts and yells:
The Bull charges at the red again,
Again at the red
The matador veers to his side
‘Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!
From City in a Valley
Caracas: city in this valley
Of rolling green mountains
Ventured into the city to
Buy trinkets for friends,
A pendant for my daughter
In a bullet proof Cadillac
And an armed guard;
Found shops closed, shut,
For fear of armed robbers.
This, the fate of many cities
Of South America.
From Machu Picchu:
As I walked across the ridge
Over a bend in the mountain
A stone path, a patch of jungle,
My heart sheared by this landscape
Mind morphed and merged
In this earth, this city of layered
Stone, of clarified emptiness
Where the condor swooped down
On mountain walls, snow-draped
Peaks, to rest, carved on stone,
Sun-drenched gold, where once,
High priests officiated sacrifices,
Blood spilled for the Inca gods.
In this volume of poetry, says Dr Isabel Santa Rita Vás, playwright, retired university teacher, and author of Frescoes in the Womb: Six plays from Goa, “ Dr António Gomes invites the reader to an imaginative journey in finely crafted verse that traverses numerous stages of life, contrasting moods, diverse continents, and singular moments in personal history.”
Grace Schulman, professor of English at Baruch College of City University of New York, says, “His scenes are at once concrete and mysterious, such as the Arabian Sea’s underwater secrets, ancient tides carrying scarabs of amber and lapis lazuli.”
The title is a tautology implying that the poet’s reflections are as seen in the mirror of his mind, a past remembered. The cover is that of a sail mast sketched by Vamona Navelcar, a distinguished Goan artist and friend of the poet.
Published by Goa 1556, the book (ISBN 978-93-80739-649) is available at major bookstores in Goa and on Amazon.com.
It’s priced $19.95 US.
Ben Antão is a veteran journalist, a teacher and author who lives in Toronto, Canada. He writes both fiction and non-fiction and has published five novels and several short stories. He holds an MA (English) from the University of Bombay and B.Ed from the University of Toronto. He has been president of the Canadian Authors Association, Toronto Branch.0 comments so far — Join the discussion