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If it be love indeed, tell me how much

Mahendra Solanki, Warwick's Royal Literary Fund Fellow performs 'If it be love indeed, tell me how much'



This poem was written to mark the fifth birthday of Mahendra Solanki's eldest daughter, Hannah and it is dedicated to her. The title is a quote from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra; in fact they are Cleopatra’s first words. Unlike King Lear, who asks of his daughters who loves him the most, Mahendra tries to address the question as a father responding to his daughter’s daring taunt. He is still not sure what Hannah makes of it, but she occasionally refers to it as her poem.

Mahendra Solanki is Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Warwick. "At Warwick, I have the pleasure of working with students at all levels to discuss their writing across different disciplines: from considering an abstract for a PhD in a systematic review of screening for gestational diabetes mellitus, to a Master’s dissertation in accounting and finance and advising on structuring undergraduate essays in post-Romantic European novels. In addition, I feel privileged to be part of a unique and a lively academic and literary environment."

If it be love indeed, tell me how much

Mahendra Solankifor Hannah

You say, “I don’t love you,”
pinching your forefinger and thumb,
your hand a small fish’s head,
"even this much.”

Arching both arms out, you say,
your arms now a seagull’s wings,
“I love David that much”

At five you think of love
as a measuring rod;
each notch a fist
to use as a bargaining tool.

On your first birthday, I thought
of time as a measure of love:
a life time of love a year old;
“I’ll love you for ever” held at the water’s edge.

You and I stand on a shoreline.
We are bound by what we hear and say.
Stones sink like hopes.

How can I gauge the depth
of the sea we throw pebbles in?

Mahendra Solanki has worked in publishing, bookselling, adult and community education and the theatre. Until recently, he taught at Nottingham Trent University where he led the English and creative writing programmes as well as directing a long-established MA in Writing. He is now Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Warwick. His publications include Shadows of My Making, What You Leave Behind and most recently, The Lies We Tell. Mahendra's poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies and broadcast by the BBC. He has been a writer in residence in a variety of locations and in challenging situations, which include a children’s hospital for First Story and a mental health secure unit for The Poetry Society. He is also a practising psychotherapist.

Photo Credit: Lee Garland