About Uma

Writer and artist from Chennai, South India.

The Fertility Goddess

The long argument ran into a thin stream
leaped in sudden bursts, snarled over his silence

Where is the diamond I brought in marriage
the ring that I dropped into the well

He jumped in, snorted the slush of a copious monsoon
massaged her breastbone, the hands opened like a wing

arced into a cup of gift that was hers to give
The tingle of gooseberry on the teeth as he furrowed

a pathway in the room where the firewood was stored
scorpions teeming under the tiles cramped her legs

The stitches unraveled four times and the lotus leaf
bearing the lamp floated down the river

So he took her to the sea, the salty water washed
the pallid thighs, he sniffed the attar behind the earlobes

hold the seed he said, the words slimed into her
roped the womb into a pouch of rice she balled every time

she washed the palms of sesame seeds, a hand-span of life
she coaxed to breathe by climbing the hill for a glimpse of Palar

the river a trickle sank in the silence of the heart
ran dry for the first time in twenty years which was her age.


The Reflection



Petals from the prints of red hibiscus crinkled
stamen fell over the padding of breastfeeding gown.

Buttons unhooked she squeezed nipples engorged breasts
caked with milk, decanted existence into a shell of grief.

Reflection in the mirror held the man diminutive in size
stare at the new life guzzle with insatiable hunger.

His skin parched, cells powdered the pith of being
became dust in the palm of the son she fed.

The Full Moon: A Love Poem


After he leaves for the airport
the dust from his shoes settles on the floor

The smell of soap lingers in the room
as I fold the warmth of his body in the  blanket

It goes back to the practice from my childhood
when I wandered in the overgrown backyards of people

to collect the thumbai flowers, pinches of moon in my palm
that  I weaved  into a garland, the pale stem of a flower

pressed into the heart of another, into the soft pouches
of nectar for the bees that helicoptered to my face

Brush of wings a whisper so faint like the slight
movement of his chest as he slept

I pay attention to the small things in him that the others miss
so like the thumbai flower that no one cared to gather.

the breath rests

The ladle is you
the oblation is you
it is offered by you in the fire
which is you.
You shall be attained by the one
who is absorbed in you .
~ Bhagavad Gita

The lone traveler cooks his last meal
throws the pots into fire doused
by steady fall of snow. The pines are left
miles below, only the hum of wind
the hiss of breath at the tip of the tongue
as air journeys from sinking diaphragm
fanned by fire from the womb.

A stitch of light rips the skin of dawn
to unravel the slow-burning planet.
Smoke rises from the forest
folds into the ample breast of earth.
He labors his breath, pebbles roll in the chest
each one a chant he learned standing neck deep
in the freezing river.

The Blue Moon: A Love Poem

I begin to talk to the moon
I have been wanting to do it from the time
I experienced the phenomenon
that moon is not an astral body
not a satellite that books make it to be
and that was when I was a girl
looking up as the clouds scudded by
the palm fronds eclipsed the sheer whiteness
I walked streets, past buildings
wearied I reached an open ground
the orange lantana was sobered by the spectacle in the sky
the crown flower poisoned a deep purple
the shadows of the leaves sharp on the burnt grass
I did not have to look up to see the moon
earth was a receptacle
the way my skin, eyes, limbs
incandesce with you
love like the moon is a phenomenon
I run untiringly to the open space
to garner you in the orchard of my heart.

The Garment

the breeze does not move in dreams
appears grey and quartz when eyes open not yet
to a house bright with colours

redness of earth pools in damp bags
contours the face in the years lost between lives
filigreed nerves like frail fingers of spent river

burst at the wings of shoulder
breasts damp in mulmul cotton buttery to touch
marbles the sky in milky pools

Waiting lounge in an airport

A young man looks into the settings of the camera
studying as he would the movement of fish under water.

Noise explodes as stories web under squares of sky light
to drown the old film song from a taxi playing loud in mind.

It is never easy to penetrate the concentration of the man
focusing the lens on the aeroplane waiting to take flight –

the tension of the engine uncoils muscles that cord jaw to shoulder.
Dream fans out wings, triangle of desire pulls up a chair as coffee fumes

spill along the seats in the waiting lounge. After a walnut cake
forked between sips of tea they are still there –

her hair in a lazy knot fell on bare shoulders, breasts a whisper
under the tassel of her shirt goose pimpled his skin into delirious  rash.