Poetry: Sambhu R

Sambhu R
1.      Well

 

My mother draws water from the well

that has been dreaming in our courtyard

for three generations. She balances

herself on a mouldering wooden crate

in which a distant uncle from Ooty

once sent sweet plums on a whim.

Her anklets tinkle against the long grass

where kraits hide their supreme indifference

to human fate. She lowers the pail

with a premonitory quiver into the entrails

of the cool creamy water blistered

by somnolent striders, overcoming one fear

at a time. The pail clinks timorously

as the rope jerks, and my mother holds

her breath to let the wind uncoil

from her wrists. The loupe-wearing eye

of the well zooms in on the clock hands

clashing on the dial of her face.

The surface parts. Striders relocate.

With a soft tugging motion

mother resurrects the drowned pail

out of the well of her existence,

its heaviness returning like memory.

The thirst burning on her thin lips

has learnt to wait. She must now

pour herself out till the last drop for others.

***

 

 

2.      Wounds

 

All night I hear the mangoes splat onto

the rain-roused earth, a soft pulpy sound

that alternates with the adenoidal wheeze

 

of the engine of your REM sleep. I remain

awake like a candle planted on the edge

of an operating table back in

 

the Middle Ages. I’ve never watched darkness

caress our room or you at 2 O’ clock.

The mattress’ infinitude as its edges

 

disappear into the shimmering void feels

truly epiphanic: we might as well

be floating through space surrounded by spirals

 

of astral debris. I watch your chest rise

and fall, leavened by the yeast of being alive

and extricate the kite of your hair

 

from my shirt-button’s baby grip. Fly! Fly!

Last night I dreamt your heart had run away

from the rest of your body and I was

 

slipping solicitous missives into

the letterbox of your head. Only they

came back two days later, No one found

 

at this address scrawled in the colour

of loss across their length. You murmur

the flavours of ice cream you binged over

 

the sultry weekend—vanilla, pistachio,

dark chocolate, butterscotch— like they are

the names of forgotten gods. Your voice enters

 

my body the way wind enters a dead man’s

rags, filling me with a wonder that is

short-lived. But I do not complain. I am

 

learning to exchange one regret for another

till I know how to treat happiness as

one would a stray cat that might or might not

 

stay. In the morning, the mangoes will look

like half-sunk bullets in the soil’s skin. I will

take them out quietly between yawns that smell

 

of sleeplessness and you will squat down by my side

pondering the history of wounds incomparably

larger than the ones that have fissured our lives.

***

 

Bio: Dr. Sambhu R is a bilingual poet from Kerala. He is employed as Assistant Professor of English at N.S.S. College, Pandalam. His poems in English have appeared in Wild Court, Bombay Literary Journal, Muse India, Borderless Journal, and Shot Glass Journal, among others.

 

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