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ISSN: 0974-892X


Jul 2015 - Jan 2016



Self Portrait

Shanta Acharya


There is someone in the mirror smiling at me,
the image is mine, but who is that person?
I am unrecognisable dressed like a harlequin.

Looking at a photograph of me in front of the mirror,
I see incarnations of myself – the mirror’s reflection,
the harlequin in the photo and me. I am many.

The moment I become the person I want to be
I am somebody else. I ask myself who am I
when I say – I am, I love, I believe?

I ask all the people who know me –
even my enemies, my best friends – about this I.

Opinions vary widely, the centre cannot hold –
yet once out there, they take wings irrevocably.

The sketches keep shattering, shape shifting.
My portrait presented through the eyes of others
begins to resemble a poor Picasso painting.

The jigsaw puzzle crumbles with vital pieces missing –
pieces that belong only to me, the keeper my soul.

Becoming many things to many people,
I disappear in shadows, dissolving like dreams.                                      

My ashes once scattered, will I finally be free,
no longer buried alive within representations of me?



Shanta Acharya DPhil (Oxon) is the author of ten books, including five volumes of poetry, three books on finance, a critical assessment of the Indian influence on the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. A World Elsewhere, her first novel, was recently published to critical acclaim. An internationally published poet, critic, reviewer and scholar, she has twice served on the board of trustees of the Poetry Society in the UK. Her poems figure in major anthologies such as Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton), The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry. Her New & Selected Poems is due for publication in 2016.