காடு*

Forest is a pyre, a conflagration
of human bodies.

I discard gold from the waist,
the touch of my son.

Dark shadows grow under the eyes
where roots tangle.

Wind fuels the fire, bellows
in the hollowed trunk.

The blue eye of the flame is the cold
silence of death.

___________
* காடு is the Tamizh word for forest.

Interrupted

I pour into the narrow hole of sleep
where bees coat the hive of follicles.

Flakes of skin encrust in waxy dust,
smear on the paper like pollen,

germinate into words, write a
script, take a note of every action

till  my body becomes a book
that no one can cleave away –

mine until the flesh burns, that’s when
lines written here crackle

explode and hiss in fire, quicken line
break to leave me mid sentence

Love Song

The summer your mother died was the hardest for me.
A hawk circled in my unblinking eye as I scraped the desert
for fragments of you in the disappearing dune.

Grains of sand like topaz dust stirred the warm night –
all because the moon could make love thicken,
slick on nerve edges, smear throats of desert flowers.

The pollen rubbed into the skin, capillaries of desire
splintered the air that throbbed with unbearable longing
of the bird that dipped from sky into my aching song.

My words snuggled warm in your palm like a bird.
The fistful of life that ran down your wrist was my heart.

Prithvi

Pieces of earth I gathered
breathed into clods of clay
till roots grew from my palm
branches clenched my breast.
Like a mother I lactated
nerves tips loosened with sap.
As flowers burst into colours,
seeds tugged me. But the cycle
terminated when  the sky
declared water is earth.

Apah*

इदमापः प्र वहत यत्किं दुरितं मयि
May the water cleanse me.
(Apah Suktam, Rig Veda)

The gut knots in loops of metal strings,
muscles tighten around my bag of seeds
as rain batters on the glass that trembles
first, then shakes in a shattering threat.
The night is drained of colours,  sedimented
like dark silt. I stretch my arms like octopus –
everything falls away from grasp , only
night dust that I carry in the cracks of skin
as the roof over my head blows away and
water rises  to my knees, hips, shoulders,
jaws, mouth, nose , eyes that break into
light bright, metallic, psychedelic where
noise includes silence, and darkness light.

*’Apah’ in Sanskrit means water.

Maya

Don’t be fooled by what geologists say.
Earth is soft, pulpy, sucking deep snorts, farts.
Retrieve a foot, other sinks deep.

Father explained how saints walked on lakes
squishing water hyacinths, tangling in weeds and messy algae.
Padma pada – lotus footed.

At the Fair half snake-half girl groaned from a tent.
Mother threw half anna paisa to the girl washed ashore Cooum –
a river once, sewer now.

I gave birth to a snake child, adorned her tail with anklets,
tied rope around the waist, dropped her in a well
among a  dozen water serpents.