A House Divided

By Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

A poem for those who suffer the pain of separation

 As we approach freedom in my birthplace, once more,

 I imagine a dividing line, parting my house in two

This is no Red Sea, with no dry land on the other side.

The road is dusty, with cattle hooves and wheels of carts.


My daughter is dancing in her basement studio

An arm and leg, some waist, one hip

Flung towards the five mirrors shattered in two

Pieces of wall cling feverishly to broken glass

The remaining parts of her body balance her twisting form,

The other side of the dance floor, partitioned artistically by a floral divider.

She calls to me to watch the dance, a split image, only in imagination.


The black and white cat gulping fresh air by the back door

Stretches out a paw to his companion, the golden-haired tabby.

The paws grasp empty air. When checked with fresh eyes,

Both cats slumber peacefully, on the cat tree.


My notebook of poems fling pages onto lurching bullock carts

Piled high with my worldly belongings and my grandmother.

Some epiphanies remain to be written

In a new and strange country.

I touch the desk where my poetry is shaped

Its solid wood in one piece, the epiphanies may be composed.

Now, here where I am, the toy train in The Heritage Park

Sounds the horn which I hear from the kitchen windows

Laughing children wave happily in a country that never has paid Freedom her price

They will return home in the same undivided country.


This house I call home, is old but standing

Freedom has paid its price before my birth in both countries

The closets can hang clothes on hangars and shoes in shoe racks.

The divided houses in divided countries

Draw imaginary lines in the blowing sand

Of my imagination.

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca was born and raised in a Jewish family in Mumbai.  She was educated at the Queen Mary School, Mumbai, received her BA in English and French, an MA from the University of Bombay in English and American Literature, and a Master’s in Education from Oxford Brookes University, England.  She has taught English, French and Spanish in various colleges and schools in India and overseas. Her first book, Family Sunday and Other Poems was published in 1989, with a second edition in 1990. She manages her Poetry page at


3 replies on “A House Divided”

Loved your very touching poem.
How real and agonising these imaginary lines can be….Really liked it Kavita.


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