மடல் பெரிது தாழை
She was peripatetic
slung a bag across the shoulder
A pouch of puffed rice salted tempered with pepper
moistened the old saree
frayed at the shoulder with sweat
She walked until she couldn’t
identify a single species of tree
to learn anew
which one yielded edible berries
if Pandanus bore flowers
in the rosette of spiked leaves
வாங்கக் குடம் நிறைக்கும் வள்ளல் பெரும் பசுக்கள்
நீங்காத செல்வம் நிறைந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.
The hill fashions clouds
the illupai breathes deep to enable this.
Shrouded in a fog the pimpled bark of wild lime
loops liana climbers under hoary limbs.
The red earth swirls in a dust storm
precipitation veins the hill.
The mercurial rupture on the boulders, the burst
of life tosses the crown of kadamba.
The heartwood browned with age holds
the secret of her progeny. Stewing the sap
into the folds of the skin, she births a calf
who sleeps in the ooze of milk.
A butterfly dusted in sunset orange dips into a flower
like a diver who tears into the silky fabric of the sea.
The honeyed bees are encrusted and scaled with pollen
as the laced wings whir, toss the flowers.
I feel most elated on a day when sun licks the earth in thirst
the notes tumble from the dried twig, set fire a song.
I think the poem hid in a flower, in the wings of a butterfly
in the pollen on a drunken bee, in the song of a thirsty earth.
I raked the ground, sifted through the crumble of browned leaves
watched the earth yield a plant and offer a flower to find this.
I will blame the blueness in the sky
the berries fallen and crushed under feet, seeds carried away by wind
the plain breasted bird on a dying tree.
Sun soaks through everything, stitches specialness into the ordinary
It was luck
that took me to the first line
that creased the face
when worry constricted
the bones at the chest
The threadbare day
spun yarns from empty tales
when I could not choose
between the sea and the mountain
Both were a gateway to another life
Most times space turned inward
to the remembrance of light on the skin
stretched to the radius
where the sun distilled colors
on the flowers
as the leaves
held the conversation with the tree.
She sits at the edge of the tide, the sky
bleaches the folds of her neck. The flowers in the skirt
deceptive take colors from the house. She fashions a tunic
tasseled with strands of time when every event takes a step back.
As the weight of emptiness rests on the rosewood chair
her mind drops into the silenced bowl of the day.
The clock hands tremble with particles of constancy: the clover
fragrant in the smoked fish on the counter, the dust in air
fed by flecks of coal hefted from the stove as corn fobs
gyrate in the squall of hunger. The tongue of the Pandanus flower bears
the language of the silenced deity, she slices the rosette of curse
weaves the fragrant strand in her hair to stitch the gash of shame.
Magenta is the closest color to the blood
the veins of bougainvillea roots under the skin
to the flashes of light seen behind closed eyes
on a summer morning.
April is the month of grasping – bleeding colors
smear the mercurial sky, butterflies spin dreams
near the window, the koels in swoons of longing
knot the tall eucalyptus.
The fruits secret several ounces of sunlight, sway
through helicoptering bumblebees dazed by the smell
of leaves mulched by the moisture trapped
in breaths from the sea.
The moringa tree wants me to snip its head every time
I run my hand over the shoots.
It rather stays my height so the leaves, flowers and pods
remain within grasp.
I bring every part of the tree to my meal, mulch the soil
with its own waste.
Can I do all these to my memories – nick them so to
garner the light of the sun?
It is easy to catch the smell of despair in the scaled trunk
crumbly like algae in a temple pond.
In secrecy I wrote your name on the bark, watched it grow
into rings of stories.
Each letter faded out, absorbed into the core of the tree
that is ungraspable.
I do not need the aswatha tree to teach me lessons of life.
The moringa does better
by paring me down, shredding clamoring limbs. I shed leaves
to reach for my small voice.
Here are the neem blossoms on the red-tiled floor
the first breath of summer crumbling under the feet
in the instep arched deeper to become a receptacle.
The moonlight bounces off the waxy leaves
a cloud of smoke from the smoldering branches is carried
by the breeze from the sea blowing inland to the terrace.
The roots of the tree are knotted in a clay tub
the bark stumpy, the branches twisted at the nodes
whorls of the memory of earth siphoned in spoons of existence.
You take the tartness of the flower in the mouth
knead away my loop of desire, dig the soil to move the tree
holding it as you would an infant to prevent limbs from splaying.
Spread me out, flatten the ground with your moist palms
the roots crave to cleave the breasts of the earth furrowed
by the labor of the moon planted in the seeds of your hunger.
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.
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.