Vinita Agrawal: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Vinita Agrawal is the author of four books of poetry, - Two Full Moons (Bombaykala Books), Words Not Spoken (Brown Critique), The Longest Pleasure (Finishing Line Press) and The Silk Of Hunger (AuthorsPress), Vinita is an award winning poet, editor, translator and curator. Joint Recipient of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 and winner of the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award for Literary Excellence, USA, 2015. She is Poetry Editor with Usawa Literary Review. Her work has been widely published and anthologised. In September 2020, she edited an anthology on climate change titled Open Your Eyes (pub. Hawakal). She is on the Advisory Board of the Tagore Literary Prize. She has curated literary events for PEN Mumbai. She can be reached at

A Feminist Poem

Arms are weapons for survival.
Just because you're here
Just because you didn't ask to be here.
And now you must fight.
Every breath, a battle,
every curve of womanhood, a play ground.
Fortunes not disclosed.
Victories not acknowledged.

Naive of you to think
that filigreed amulets
carved bracelets, gold-silver bangles
were what arms are for.
No. Arms are wielders of fate.

Fingers pointing skyward
fists whamming through hearts of stone, 
balled and socketed to shoulders
aching to shed burdens of the vagina.
Arms want no ornaments, these arms.
All they want is an arm's length of distance 
from hooded cobras of exploitation
or else they want a mace 
that recognises bad blood.


The steel-cold hands of death
make a log out of a body
that when placed 
on a lattice of wood
doesn’t feel the scorch of fire
when torched.

Serenity, unruffled by searing.

Like fathers and forefathers before us
this passing is impassive.
Our absence swims in the eyes 
of those who love us -
a rain of precious water.

For Ma

Often we watched the rain swollen clouds 
from our terrace,
our upturned faces lighting up
as slowly they slid out of the skies
to unwrap a quilt of brilliant stars.

Now you're a star, yourself. 
Icy cold by my window
closer to the clouds than to me.
Alone, I watch you,
the brightest star
and feel the falling rain 
with which you touch me.


To forsake your roots,
to drift from place to place
language to language
culture to culture 
to bring nothing of your own where you are
except a sorry desire 
to be accepted as one of 'them',
is true nakedness.

To be rootless is to be vulnerable
like a sapling deprived of soil
or an unfired clay pot. 
It means you always stand apart 
from a relaxed conglomerate of people
who laugh and joke about ordinary things
while you shift like an autumn leaf
rustling aimlessly on alien soil.
Unmourned by the tree.
not particularly welcomed by the ground.

Yours is a small lightweight existence
like a bonsai:
flowering and glimmering in the smallest of spaces
on just a spoonful of water.

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।