Remembering Mother

It takes two hands to clap
silence languishes in a vacuum.
She presses her elbows on the table
gets up to leave, a spring flows calmly
across her face as fury wrecks me red.

The seasons unfurl in her chest
monsoon curls the edges of her hair
that flutter in lazy scrolls
the skin on her waist a gentle turmeric
in the moistness of summer.

I knock around the cave of her silence
fly above the landscape of her stillness
scan the contours of her body dip and rise
as I hold breath at the nine gateways
in an attempt to douse the fire.

She is the water drop on a lotus leaf
no grease marks on the stove
clothes folded away, dishes rinsed
on the sink. Being born afresh
is like dying in the right sense.




(for Appa)

Just before dark
the tree stood in clear light
I could almost see
what lay across the fence
when you left
could see a part of me go with you
a part of you stay with me.


She pickled mangoes from the yard
added mustard seeds and red chillies
in equal measure to blend the molecules
that laced us together. The scales of salt
in the jar was the same color as
grief shaped sleep that eluded him.
He woke me up in the middle
of the night. I gave him a glass of Horlicks
held his hand as the rest of the family slept.

The Three Generations

Once the firstborn crowns
it is easier for the rest
but only if the others are coming
and if the firstborn is alive
survives dysentery or diphtheria.

When my only born came into the world
crawled and prattled
she said his broad forehead was like her son’s
the one who died of fever – poisonous fever
she added as if it was a variety of berry.

Her mother-in-law lost two of hers
a boy and a girl, to measles.
My world has eradicated cholera and plague
but I kept the windows closed
to protect my son from rats nesting in sewers.


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.


It is believed in the town that the sun directs its light into the well
staining pearly radiance at the curvature where she aims the spittle

He mapped the channel of the dribbling  silver by holding her body
blue grey like the spent rivulet draining into the dry mouth of delta

A green snake taken in the mouth stirs under the tongue of moon
the cobra ascends from her groin fans out hood of desire in her breast

When pain colors like oleander she knows the blood flows in reverse
from the tip of the finger to the dying throat of the flower rasping for breath

The last time I saw him he was saluting the sun, his head a hive of memories
he did not know she was crouched over the fire as a last act of supplication

One hand on the slab of shoulder, the other cupped over her ear he called
into the empty house, primeval cry razed down the structures of language