Poetry: Shailja Sharma

Shailja Sharma
The Silhouette
Whose milk is in my bones,
whose blood is in my veins,
marks of her lap
my body carries-
tearing off the sky,
my eyes can still witness
a Silhouette
A Silhouette...
with a bun at the back
gold earrings hanging in either ear
a chain swirling out
the fragrance of her sandal wood
purified my room
Your hair was dipped in scented oil
always combed to perfection
the softness of your fabric
smoothed my worries
eyes were sharper than a magnifying glass
Grandmother, when you were gone,
one corner of my square broke for ever...
tearing off the sky,
my eyes can still witness
A Silhouette-
vaster than the sky
I still feel you, Grandmother....

Often on bright afternoons,
a cart of blueberries moved through
hustling-bustling streets of my home-town
Suddenly, one day,
the wheel stuck into debris,
the cart cracked,
and blueberries rolled down one after one, and another
My berries were crumbled
by rude tires
and hasty feet
yet...traces grooved deep in heart
Time elapsed,
but it still pains
when I eat a blueberry
Blueberries tasted much sweeter
in your lap
your wrinkled hands
knew the art
of tossing them in home-made salt
Each wrinkle summed up
the story of generations,
of human existence
Grandmother, your blue-berry sized
life-span gave me
a crippling peek
into death and its non-negotiability
and the myth called life
-the myth that I claim
to be a part of....
In her purple Banarasi sari
with a heavy border,
slightly pulling her down
while tilting the left strands of her
hair towards the floor
She walks behind her own shadow-
a shadow filled with naughty glimpses
from the present
and from the future
which no one has yet seen,
but Chandrakala herself can feel
There are emotions
tucked in in her
imperfect pleats as
she does not like
pinning up her sari’s crease
Chandrakala’s emotions are silly and funny,
yet they remind her
of womanhood-
a womanhood that only
a good pair of male eyes
can assure
Chandrakala is confused
about those eyes
about how her pleats begin
to unsettle when she is not
even moving….
in her heart too,
minor unsettling begins
making her want to dance,
in fancy dance moves
She gets naughtier
smiling at her own shadow,
which she has been following
but could never quiet catch-
she is in love with her shadow
and with everyone who helped cast it even darker
including the haunting pairs
of male eyes
Chandrakala wishes to be haunted-
her mind will never settle perhaps
she does not like to pin up
the creases of her sari
yet, she can get back straight
by her own shadow
and stand tall in her Purple Banarasi
That is Chandrakala,
a damsel so beautiful,
in her own ways
You don’t believe the poet?
ask the pair of male eyes
Thoughts of you
are like cockroaches
I kill them
and they occur
in multitudes again
Afraid of day-light
perhaps, in night they reproduce?
Each object
each person and each particle
of air around me
Whatever I feel, hear, touch, speak,
smell, eat, or see,
is pre-contaminated
thoughts of you.

Dr. Shailja Sharma has been serving in the field of psychology for over twenty years. Her experience in serving people with special needs allows her to create literature full of compassion that easily touches the heart. Her educational background in psychology and literature allows her a unique perspective and a holistic treatment of themes in her poetry. Her poems have been published in Indian magazines and have been relayed on radio shows.

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