Amrita Valan (Towards Visibility)

Amrita Valan


Brandish mop, broomstick
Wash vessels, countertop,
Make floors brand new
Varnish door knobs.


Paint Ma Laxmi’s feet outside
Worship God’s immaculate bride,
Do daily Pranayama, Surya Namaskar,
Sit with your children watch Avatar,
Discuss with them the daily news,
Watch a stand-up comic rant and vent
Your secret pent up pressured views.
Cook and clean, make the beds,
Be sure the chicken or lamb marinates.
Do this until you are done to death.


After two score years or more, hey woman,
Running on empty since you hit the floor
Neither pity not pittance paid, in the name of
Love and duty, your labours never monetised.
A ghost in your mansion, queen of your hive,
Invisible, busy churning out honey for your tribe.




You are a valuable commodity. Man is like gold, fallen into a ditch,
His muck can be washed off, emerging good as new, good as gold.
But alas! You frail fabulous silk, forever spoilt by a trace of dirt.
Unsullied, a girl child is precious, untouched.
Like a car, first ownership is all.
Woman you are owned. You claim freedom,
A voice, a choice. Hush your noise. Look upwards,  
Your liberty granted under the aegis of permission,
Glass ceilings make you fantasise about infinite scope.
Woman, you walk a thin high wire, tight rope artist of dangerous heights
As perfect work of art, plundered, caged, collected, displayed, framed,
Showcased luxury good. Cossetted, Beloved. Pampered, praised.
As audacity, stifled, shaved, paraded naked like punishment,
Stoned, burnt, by fire or acid, berated, warned, cautioned
To be aware. Beware woman, you are on thin, slippery ground,
Once fallen. It is downhill all the way; only prodigal males return.
Woman you have been told; your grace lies in soft submission.
My face hardens, I curse like a man, spread broad shoulders
Protecting my family because I can. Do it all. A learnt élan.
But I am still, your appendage rib, only an accessory, woman.


Amrita Valan is a writer from India with two published works, Arrivederci Fifty Poems, (Gloomy Seahorse Press, 2021) and a collection of 17 short stories, In Between Pauses, (Imp Spired Press, 2021). Her poems, essays and short stories have been published online, in national and international journals and anthologies, such as Outlook Weekender, Piker’s Press, Shot glass Journal, among others. Her short story A Normal Day was featured in the 2021 Best of the Best anthology by Potato Soup Journal. In 2021 she won a jury award for an ekphrastic on Van Gogh’s Café Terrace from the Friendswood Ekphrastic Poetry contest and was shortlisted again in 2022. She has narrated her short stories for Alan Johnson’s Storyboard. Amrita podcasts her stories on Spotify at:

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