About Uma

Writer and artist from Chennai, South India.


The dead crowd my legs
those who leave us late can never forget
they wander and find way between the lids of eyes
to spill into our dream

Maybe I did not till the garden with fervor
turn the soil under the light of stars, to see
if the seed splayed open in the breath of dawn, if end
of you is the beginning of me

I drape time on you as if it is enough
not to grasp the silk slip away through the space where
silence pools in your curled fingers that trace
the horizon as a jagged line

A river ran here fifty years ago, a wasteland now
the roots of trailers hear the rustle of water
that like ghosts let breeze blow through hollow shell
to grasp life that has no matter

The bird hollows out the sky ball sized, slices a path
taut like the birth canal – the only passage with no return
which then loosens in the vast breast of blue
under the gland that nurtures eternity


TheTwo Fires

I leave my voice in the              crevice
of the tree
the moon rises pale and grim
muted stars drop

in the bowel of my silence

Can time be timeless?
no color
shows up in the soft folds of the brain cramped
with lack of salt .         I feed the empty vessel
get into the folds of the brain up through
roof of the mouth that you have forgotten

to open

The world moves heavy
on nerve edges –
an eon passes before an image reveals
on cornea
and another falls like a fly from the wall

molecules mix into the health drink
arbitrate            between the two fires in my body –
one to keep me warm and coupled to you
another to rise to the gods
earth and sky weld in a blind heat of


She went from shop to shop disbursing money, lifetime
like leaking faucet dripped before debt was paid:
she looked at clock every half minute, patient.

Two spans she counted placing the palm on the table: two
laps back and forth to cremate the dead across the river.
That was the third gone, her womb was shredded flesh.

Two months exact before the climb up the hill, fuzz of grey
in the middle of vision, a pillar of dusk covered the earth
and the egg like sundried fig curled on the heat of the stone.

She single handed reforested the hills, the trees first – always
begin from large to small. Who would put in the birds, insects,
the spiders, specially the pebbles entranced by the brook?


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.


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