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Kutti Revathi 

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Kutti Revathi

Great Tit, Kaziranga. Photo by Nitoo Das

(Translated from the Tamil by Vivek Narayanan, Padma Narayanan and the author)


I a male tiger you a tigress
and with love's coarse mouth nipping cupping
sharp nails impressing the skin clasping scratching
to one another we'll reveal
the depth of our power

the tender leaves of your eyes
the forests will show them hiding
I'll give you my body
invisible in the firmness of the trees
and in the nights when we join together
the desire I'd kept hidden until then
for you
will screech and squall from my throat

the smell of screwpine blossoms emanating as if
from inside me from my hidden zones only for you
Like a spring breaking from mountain rocks
milk sprouts from your chest
the little ones will come mouths clinging
neglecting love I'll lie there

and when you're no longer able
to hunt me
I'll come back to caress you
I'll run my fingers through your fur
and when you're struggling to brook my presence
twitching to become my prey
I'll hunt and finish you then

this is how I become the tigress
and you the male tiger


It swarms her body,
that camera,
showing not only
the thickening folds
but also the places where
her hopes and yearnings
have come to dwell
tunneling into her
here or somewhere, vacillating,
she's hidden her lover in
the darkness of
her heart, waiting waiting
in that dark he even killed
himself there, and the
camera like a wasp
above and below anywhere
spinning or hovering in mid-air
and the self-awareness that knows
her body up and down presses
the blossoming rustling skirt to
the hemline with her hands
her legs held stuck together
body and mind
feet not pressing gait tiptoe springing
dancing dancing always that camera, above
and below anywhere spinning or
hovering in mid-air
circling circling
as if to sting her
and the eyes of that camera so severe
because, behind it,
millions of murderous eyes.
Straining to be no more
she took a heavy hammer
to the camera and killed it.

A Spectral Horse

The body for my friend is a kind of exhibit
A riddle without end for my sister
For my mother it's enduringly sacred God's dirt
For my father an asset to be protected and conserved
In the village pond entangled among the fish nibbling my body
that was when it opened by itself my body
they stole my innards and on lotus leaves rolled and
rolled and played with them calling them, "diamond dew-bubbles"
I've heard grandma say that the body for her was an ornament
For the tiger the body itself is wilderness
For my child it's a never-setting sun
To the lover a lake where the lotuses bloom
For me my form is a spectral horse I straddle
my self isn't locked up in any of my organs
on the horse of everyday feeling I see freedom
For me my form is a spectral horse I straddle
to bring the flown-away organs flying back
For me my form is a spectral horse I straddle
Not female not male not in woman
nor in man is this spectral horse I tend

Fish Tank

I was a fish tank the fry spoke with
soft lisping lips and circled inside me
this was not the sea restless by day or night
the hoary moss-covered pebbles were
rolled and nibbled by the little ones in their hunger
the tingling pain of dreams against the body
bubbles lifeless hitting the surface

that night and with it your extinguished manliness
made of me an ocean
and the fry struck the wall, my little ones

The Fiends that Fetter Us

sister… still many more breasts
for us to mould as if from clay
in this era when living breasts are bitten
by stones or by the tips of knives
they're like the grain that feeds our world
but no fences to protect them
and why are birds of prey rooting in those silos?
eating sunshine straining to draw breath
from an arid field
that old woman's breasts
fiends that fetter her
hanging low
knocking against the chest
like dried-up history beyond the borders on maps
not unlike those fiends that's why sister
breasts like freshwater ponds to drink deep from
let's not make them vessels of unending misery
for a day at least let's make those breasts stones
to use in slings
let's wander with a solitary breast
and carry our sun above us

She, a Lotus Pond

All across her buds of dew come up
I'll make every single bud a fruit
pluck it unbroken with my tongue
like the water brushing up the banks
her heaving heart-breaths
against the chest those waves rolling over
the palms opened wide
her navel like a leaf's
depression radiated outwards…
Like a parrot with a piece of fruit in its beak
she offers it, her body
leads and lends it to my lips
we drink each other like ecstatic tea
sinking in her smoky hair
disoriented gasping for air
her scattered footsteps on the floor are branches
Going into the water
with a snake's slippery speed
having with heavy rainy thighs come running
we make it in the flowering mud one to the other
I'm circling her beehive
with my busy breath
And then every day at dawn
the four breasts
smile like lotus blooms


your intoxicated eyes
pour into me
a great blood-waterfall
my bones' hissing tide

they want to touch and taste
my glances do
grafting into you
history's shoots

your words
brimming in me
silent at my base

you tear
the quiet in two
all over me
strike rain

later on the hardened floor
the sound of those heavy drops falling
for a long while…
season following season
time dragged on
sobbing for freedom
it brought me back

your words
brimming in me
at my base curled up quietly


For you me her
nakedness is the glittering weapon
When wet with blood's sweat
it attains the perfection of its training
As trees reach their nakedness they
turn wing-sprouting birds
The Chinese soldiers used to say
Don't ever draw
your sword from the sheath
without a reason
It isn't easy to live with nakedness
When it grows and grows
like a flame from the fire
it will torment you
But don't ever draw
your sword unnecessarily
searching for the chance to use it
Even if it should rust and turn a sieve
Keep it with you
Make it your own


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