The loch at the heart of the University of Stirling

Nikita Parik is the 2022-2023 Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow at the University of Stirling. Her third and latest book, My City is a Murder of Crows (2022), has been nominated for the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar and the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize.

She has recently presented talks, readings, and workshops at SOAS University of London, University of Kent, and University of Stirling. She has also read her poems at the Off the Page Book Festival, Stirling (Stirling Council Libraries and Culture Festival), and at the historical Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland.

Her books have been reviewed/featured in The Sunday Statesman, Business Standard, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Outlook India, The Wire, Indian Literature, and Kavya Bharati. You can read her interview with Kitaab here, and listen to her poetry podcast with Rattle magazine here.  

The loch at the heart of the University of Stirling campus sort of anchors me even when I am not physically around it. I didn’t even realise when it became the centre of my little universe here – every movement away from it is a soft centrifugal force towards the circumference of the rest of the UK Skyline. Here are two poems, written two months apart – as perhaps evident from the depth of attachment in the later one ‘Spirit of the loch’ and the surprised sense of discovery in the earlier one ‘Night on the Loch Bridge’.

Nikita Parik

‘Spirit of the Loch’

On days such as these, when the sun is an
looking at us from above, from behind the
curtain, and the cold, cold rain keeps me

the loch comes to me. It comes to me as the
of water splattering my window, for what if some
little droplet
had once belonged to the loch, what if it still

the memory of being the loch, what if it
this soft ache in my soul, showed up because
what you
ache for sometimes aches back for you.

The loch
comes to me like the dandelions a child blows
not knowing all the lovely places its petals end up
travelling to.
Here, now, in my warm little room, the spirit of
the loch

engulfs me: its pristine glass surface
broken up
into further beauty by the rain, its resident
gliding gracefully across a rain-crusted

‘Night on the Loch Bridge’

One step outside the warm concrete, and our eyes
stars strewn across university grounds like flash-
lights, as if

the lake had extended an arm, pulling this stretch
of sky closer
into an embrace. A chill descends, but look what rises
like Frisbees:

warm smoke-rings of laughter in different
tongues –
adrift heart-pitched tonality, unmoored,

until they fall into a flattening curve, disperse around
your blonde braids,
become a frozen moment in a poet’s mind, startling

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