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Srilata K

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Srilata K



Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Male, Landour. Photo by Nitoo Das




ARTIST OF BOUNDARIES
(On Cyril Radcliffe, Indo-Pakistan Boundary Commission)

He found himself,
quite suddenly,
an artist of boundaries,
the knife in his hands
cutting ambiguously
through rivers and people,
slicing landscapes
as though they were English tea cakes.

Afterwards, they called it the birth of nations.
Two countries
forever destined to stand on tip-toe
looking over fences
at cousins and aunts.
And Cyril,
That unwitting geographer of their separateness,
sailing home to family.

 

Bite

He sits on the floor of a gloomy-eyed room.

Beside him, a small mountain of pressed clothes.

Hers,

to be given away to friends and family.

Inside each fold and crevice,

the waiting bite of memory.

I pick one of her favourites

and shake it alive.

Insidious batik circles,

the cracker burst of her laughter.

“I’ll have it altered”, I say.

 

Perhaps I will meet him years later,

in the same gloomy-eyed room,

the mountain slow-diminished,

trapped in the dim, dusty light,

insidious batik circles,

the cracker burst of her laughter,

and the bite of her teeth

on his neck.


BABY TURTLES DANCING ON THE ROOTS

We drive into the sudden hush of banyan
And she says, "Baby turtles dancing on the roots!
Look!"

We park in turtle-shade
and take the elevator
to the dull day waiting,
turtle-less,
on the second floor.

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