Poetry: Mona Dash

Mona Dash



On shop shelves, flavours of peach and turmeric, in little Kefir shots

Cranberry seeds and turmeric, masks and masques in recyclable pots

Some love yellow milk, drink an aphrodisiac in a tall glass

steam fish soft in thin gravy, liquid gold on shining white rice


Turmeric tastes on the tongue, lingering in infinite swirls

like Jazz, Renaissance, the Beat, a turmeric rage grows

in homes, health shops, the patents, the recipes, lotions

on skin everywhere, in all its fine avatars


But I remember it on my mother’s fingers, her tiny nails

bitten to the quick, haldi, turmeric stains on the nail bed and folds

from mixing fish-heads, pumpkin flowers with turmeric

 Yellow stains left on handles and plates and clothes


like on this scarf, her fingertips, yellow dots, from far-away home.




One day you will see

-        the Neelakurinji flower that blooms blue, once in twelve years

-        the Aurora Borealis that flashes across cold still skies

-        the Mariana Trench’s secret life in its blackest depths

-        metal glowing gold in the fire, carbon pressured into diamond

-        the pyramid of Mount Kailash and the peak of the Himalayas

You will see it in my eyes; the past, the future, both in this present

You will see it on my mouth, you will see it on my face, glowing forehead,

where the mountains and trees and sun and moon and stars are etched

 and your very gaze will change. You will see. Me. One day. In this life

or many lives after

In me. Shakti.




Tardree forest


Patches of moss below trees

A sliver of a stream

Waiting for rain, and birdsong

from birds she can’t see.

She wants to feel a part

of this immensity

speak to the silence, or have the silence

talk to her.


In her mind she occupies the forest

collecting things from the past

and then she sees a shrine, a stone idol

sindoor pasted, turmeric slathered

a shrine below a conifer

a face watching from between the trees.

Unknown laughter resounding

rising, rising.


She must mark this forest

on the edge of the world

She marks it as her own.







You didn’t say a thing

You didn’t do a thing.

Those curious eyes watched.

Not sure why,

not sure what they thought.


I drowned. I struggled. Thrashing as the water rose

in waves and whirlpools

I sank, you watched

You who had said, water

fall in, feel it, let go!

I did,

And you let me down.


The moon, your friend, is glistening low

It doesn’t let me see the shore

But somewhere a lighthouse glows

Surely it will carry me through to morning

When at last the daylight shows.



Mona Dash is the author of  A Roll of the Dice : a story of loss, love and genetics (Linen Press, 2019) winner of the Eyelands International Book Awards for memoir, and a short stoy collection,  Let Us Look Elsewhere (Dahlia Books, June ’21). Her short story Twenty-Five Years  was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 Short Works, a long running short story series. Her other published books are two collections of poetry A Certain Way and Dawn-drops, and a novel Untamed Heart. Her work has been listed in leading competitions, widely published in international journals and more than twenty-five anthologies. A graduate in Telecoms Engineering, she holds an MBA, and also a Masters in Creative Writing (with distinction). She works in a global tech company. Born and brought up in India, she lives in London. More details about her work at  www.monadash.net

Twitter @dash2mona
Instagram @monadash

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