October 22, 2010

Two Poems

My Never Naked Mother


There are such things to a child
As there is the virgin birth to a Christian.
My mother, I always imagined,
Never took her clothes off.
For sex she merely lifted up
The skirts of her sari, the fold
Upon fold and exposed
Blameless legs, fuzzy in my
Imagining or fuzzy with hair.

I could think of her urinating –
The gurgle splash of brown yellow piss.
It was not indecent.
It was sensual as a cat’s purr.
Bathing was another matter.

They were hung one by one on
The blue plywood door – the crumpled length
Of the sari, the soft inskirt, the sweat
Blotched blouse and the white bra, its
Bereft looking cups: one squashed
One holding the shape of the breast.
Even with the evidence atop the
Soap streaked door I draw
A blank for a body; my mind
Still contrives an image of her
Still somehow clothed.


When she slapped me, dragged me in to
The bedroom and pleaded with me not
To talk to boys,
The worst thing was not
That she thought I was hungry
For sex at seventeen.
The very worst thing was that
My never naked mother
Should have a filthy picture in her head.
That she saw me in her mind’s
Eye cavorting with a boy like
Those whores in America on TV.


Under The Glass

The doctor pointed down at the photos
Under the glass of her tabletop.
The trapped lives pushed up
through the honey light glaze,
tapped me on the shoulder.
Husband, two sons: pride and joy.

Their tapping was a nail knocking on my numb head.
The doctor, her deep red sari and bindi
Proclaiming fertility, preserving matrimony,
Was talking me out of an abortion,
Was presenting to me, in words and pictures,
A future I could have. Her life could be mine.

Earlier, she had insisted on showing me a screen:
The primordial murk out of which all life sprang.
‘Look, the dot,’ she pointed. ‘There,’ she flourished,
As if at her own creation.
A god showing off. A stick holding Brahma.
A swirl of black and white is all I saw.
And all were dots, swirling,
Between my ears, and in my throat.

‘The dot is the baby. The dot is the baby,’ she kept saying.
But I drew a blank for baby.
A blank in which I settled, and thought
About small, needful things:
An exam that loomed,
toast and contact lens, and laundry, and pens.

The doctor, staring defeat in the eye, wouldn’t meet mine.
And I asked for the small, needful thing.
I asked for those little everyday sips of poison
That make a poison woman.
Clasping her palms, she said to the wall,
‘Abstinence is the best contraception until marriage.
After marriage, one can plan, give intervals.’
‘Intervals?’ I said.
‘Between babies,’ she said.
I could hear the sob catch her throat.

Then she handed me to another, less fastidious, lady doctor,
Who wrote me a prescription without comment.


10 comments to Two Poems

  • I’ve read such a beautiful poem after a very long time! So vivid! Looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Anita S

    Thanks Deb and Asiya 🙂

  • harini

    How very very beautiful!

  • Dr Karanam Rao

    Splendid poems surcharged with graphical descriptions ,absorbing or rather usurping the image and metaphor into the palimpsest of imagination.This is a rare gift that one comes across in postmodern poetry that shows veers more and more towards the surreal rather than the profoundly human.

  • Dr Karanam Rao

    Splendid poems surcharged with graphical descriptions ,absorbing or rather usurping the image and metaphor into the palimpsest of imagination.This is a rare gift that one comes across in postmodern poetry that veers more and more towards the surreal rather than the profoundly human.

  • Anita Sivakumaran

    Thanks guys. You are all very kind.
    Someone left this comment on my blog. I don’t know why they didn’t write here. Ah, of course, it asks for a name.

    anonymous says:
    Read your poems in Ultra Violet…
    Imagination +
    Originality +
    Style +
    But your views ——ugly…..
    It could have been beautiful… if you could make the reader smile….
    Pls change your perspective of the world… you seem to be a lost soul….
    Just two questions for you…
    1) Why couldn’t your mom think good about you… will your child think the same way about you like you thought about your mom.. or will your child too think that his granny’s view were correct.
    2) Why can’t you see the beautiful soul…the very essence of being human…the real feminist in the first doctor.

    Find answers … ———-
    From someone who is really concerned….about a beautiful mind…pls stop rotting

  • Deb

    “A feminist is a person who answers “yes” to the question, “Are women human?” Feminism is not about whether women are better than, worse than or identical with men. And it’s certainly not about trading personal liberty – abortion, divorce, sexual self-expression – for social protection as wives and mothers, as pro-life feminists propose. It’s about justice, fairness, and access to the broad range of human experience. It’s about women consulting their own well-being and being judged as individuals rather than as members of a class with one personality, one social function, one road to happiness. It’s about women having intrinsic value as persons rather than contingent value as a means to an end for others: fetuses, children, the “family,” men.” (Katha Pollitt)

    You are honest about a common experience shared by many women…abortion is extremely common, but unfortunately it is not talked about enough…

    What a horrible comment by that anonymous person. A woman who cannot help another woman exercise her personal liberty, like the first doctor, is hardly a feminist. The right to a safe abortion is a feminist goal–having children is already expected and encouraged by the patriarchy. And parents are often suspicious of their teenagers–that is hardly unusual.

    You are a great writer. Some people just want to discourage and judge others and act as if they are somehow morally superior. I would not pay attention to it if I were you. You have immense talent. Keep at it.

    As an aside, when is this blog going to resume? It’s been on hiatus forever it seems.

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