Summer 2024: Shyamasri Maji

Shyamasri Maji
Summer of an Indian woman: three poems

Through latticed wall

An ox dozes under banyan boughs,
pedlars exhale widow’s sigh
birds sleep in mossy niches
hot winds swell the aluminium sky
Barren mango trees pray for a squall,
their leaves thirsty
like wives fasting on Shiva’s night,
Memories of March mourn in May
Curtains crave for icy moonlight
Buffaloes refuse to come out of moat
A cowboy drags them by their tails
Through latticed wall
I gawk at his sweaty sinews
A gust of loo tangles his mane
Drenched in mud the blue god strides
Breeze whistles to our fiery lanes
Clouds rumble in his tambourine beats
Shall we not dance if it rains?



Tattered veils

Their gaze is an empty pail
tied to the pulley of a dried-up well
 Along its salivating jawline
their pitchers prostrate bare
before the deity of dying dale
Tattered veils cover their copper hair
burnt sienna faces in sun-fire glow
cattle, like children, they take care
scorching winds of Jyaistha* blow
When Tulsi in your courtyard faints
they lick its arid roots
forgetting penalty and pain
Barefooted on scalded rocks,
they walk moons and miles
exuding smiles like scent of rain
*Jyaistha: a month in the Indian calendar (May-June)




Don’t ask me to take a lithium test
Curse the hot winds for my mood swings
Be deaf, if your patience revolts,
Silence was never my cup of tea.
No matter how much you savour  
 samosas on Mrs. Sen’s sofa-cum-bed
nodding your head to her Asadha tales,*
on such afternoons, crows grumble
to belching skies and
in our room cordoned by red curtains,
I hear giggles of watermelon pies.
Outside, in the corner of our street,
a gypsy strips off to scare blistered genies
The sun swollen like his inflamed scrotum
hangs low on the gateway arc
Together we wait for silence of the sea
watching flamingos on purple waves
from the branches of a garrulous tree

*Asadha tales (proverbial) – cock and bull stories; Asadha is the third month in Indian calendar (June-July)

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