By Anuradha Vijayakrishnan
JASMINUM I wake in the deep of moonlit nights welcomed by pale fleeting moths, glossy thickets of whispering leaves, hushed birds. I am greeted with joy by the woman who lives in the endless garden, who does not sleep, whose voice is silence. My heart wells with my fragrance – young snakes coil at my feet, shy kiss of dew pool over my new petals, spreading tenderly inside my veins. I bloom, I am proud. The woman who visits – she has heaven coloured eyes and a nose ring like stars. She drifts on a low cloud, laughing, breathing my scent, sighing, never touching. Sometimes I too rise on the coil of such a dream, wings of silver owls, startled feathers of sleep-woken parrots. Sometimes I gaze down with love at the world filled with such sacred darkness, seasons of hope, radiant pain, crimson lashings of anger, toss and turn of uneasy desire. This night is my whole life, these are the only words I will speak. LAST RITES FOR GRANDMOTHER Her eyes were closed with cotton. Forehead smoothened, feet brushed with oil and holy offerings. We cradled her one more time in our arms and gave her to fire, then water, then earth, then sky and waiting birds. There was rain, an earth storm wailed for seven nights. She went like Seeta leaving no trails. She went alone without looking back. Her children sprouted from soil: green shoots, shiny brown skin, curly hair flying in the wind. Her children sweep from day-bright clouds: blue feathered grey throated birdlings squawking from palm fronds taking off into light. Her children rise as tall sea-waves to reclaim our land. They slither down mountains to swallow us whole. They creep through our homes as dreams -- We light a lamp, the only language we have.
Anuradha Vijayakrishnan is an Indian writer living in UAE. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Magma, Everyday Poets, CVV2 and The Madras Courier, and was recently featured in the Yearbook of Indian poetry in English (2020).
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