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Arundhathi Subramaniam

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Arundhathi Subramaniam

Citrine Wagtail, Ladakh. Photo by Nitoo Das

The Dark Night of Kitchen Sinks

I know you of course --

your familiar swamp of grease
and indignity,

knives and spoons scattered
like mutilated limbs

across a battlefield
of gravy-streaked plates
and wounded china.

After the civilities
of supper, I've heard the Huns
of cutlery (who hasn't?) unleashing
their true selves -
raid, ravish,

And I recognize you,
just another kitchen sink
of foam and equanimity.

Another lifetime and we'll get there, I promise --

For now, your dreams smell of detergent
and mine of love.

It could be enough

Six about Love Stories

While I was waiting eagerly for him
saying to myself,

"If I see you anywhere
I'll gather you
and eat you up,"

he beat me to it
and devoured me entire…

(Translated by AK Ramanujan)


When the hunter's arrow pierces
the union
of birds
it is the beginning
of the story --

an anguish of feathers
the memory of nests
a prosody of loss.

And yet for a while,
we've been there, you and I,
unsinged by narrative.

We wore another grammar.
It flashed like chain mail
in the sun.

Even the gods eavesdropped on our whispers.

Between us
we had seventeen words
to describe the moon.


A story must have bone,
a long dreaming Euphrates
of a tail,
twitching, incised
by a shiver of illogic.

Moon enough
to allow one lone frog
to drip endless reverie
on a winter night.

Nerve. Plenty
of nerve.

Some awaken.
Some sedate.
I need both
in different

Be my story.

(All poems from When God is a Traveller, Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2014)


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