Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry II


Palash and the Padmini

The valley stands bare-shouldered
A hint of mist softens the gnarled carcass 
of the Fiat Padmini BRY 1709
and the claiming fire. 

The flames leap to the sky
like the blossoms of that tree,
as Palash would have called it, 
looking out of the window 
bare-shouldered with sinews 
like the ash-grey tree

His spoken words in a dead-language 
Inflammable punctuated silences
coveted moments so very abundant
in the bliss of our union.

Even without words 
Palash lights up the dark.
Flame of the forest
Upright and unyielding, stark.

The ambers now glow 
louder than the undone vermilion
of a smudged sunset.

A pair of headlights sweeps the darkness away
The ambulance arrives many hours late 
Men in white find a tapering pulse in him
While I hold on to a tiny beating heart, growing inside me.

A surge of pain
now tugs at my womb 
The waters break
to douse the fire
and wipe away the salt 
from my kohl-tattooed cheeks.

Help now is at arms' length 
in the safety of scalpels
but the bite of the metal
can't bury the voices. 

Someone whispers,
a power claimed him
Another calls it ... sabotage
A cynic calls it suicide.

Of course, most speak of destiny.
I wait for those fingerprints 
On the bloodied sickle that was found
Right next to the Fiat Padmini.