The gypsy woman hastily strings the rainbow beads,
hair dipped in honey falls in long tresses on her bare shoulder.
Unmindful of the moisture that collects in the curve of her thighs
she squats under the mahuda tree, the gnarled root holds her
in a tight embrace. She wears the string of beads, it falls
on the mount of her breast along the trail of the snail
drawn in urgent passion where her man ran his fingers, his tongue
before leaving for the forest to collect wild honey from the high trees.
Inspired by this composition by L Subramaniam
in Charukesi ragam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EfQ5_6Z70E&feature=related
‘Birds of Joy’ – water colour by Jenny Floravita
The river and fields she left behind,
in the market place she walked like a slut:
her feet painted red with turmeric and lime,
her teeth stained with betel leaves,
jasmines rolled around lusciously unruly hair.
He collected pebbles at the riverbed
filled his shirt pocket with them
tied them around his stomach with a towel
that she used to dry his hair as a child. He jumped
into the well, the red towel floated up first:
a missive for the beautiful mother.
(This poem is inspired by ‘The Cruel Mother’ by Brigit Pegeen Kelly.
I have not been able to get over these images:
with hair like a thrush’s breast and rose perfume
came in with a different man tonight,
her finger like a petal on his arm, her smile
a crimson wing )
I watch as she reaches for the glass: hands lined
criss cross, soft and flappy like the inside of my purse;
she won’t give a grain of rice away, stores them under her bed
till the bulge nudges her and keeps her awake.
She counts the slats of light the night lamp throws,
waiting for the sleeping pill to start work: counting helps sometimes.
She worries what to count next, the avenue of street lamps
from her window, the tiles at the end of her hospital cot.
She has him and she does not have him:
when she enters the operation theatre
he will be lying in his room worried who will take him to loo;
he has her and he does not have her:
as he tucks the napkin under his chin
she will raise her hospital gown and piss in the pan.
I have you and do not have you
you have me and do not have me.
Who stands there at the end of the road
dark ridges on the face, waiting, a leopard ready to pounce?
Keep away from the path laid soft by sand
warm with the sun on its back.
A dark cloud hovers there, a shadow passes.
This is your brush with death.
My poem is published in the ‘New Classics’ issue of Qarrtsiluni. Here is the link: