• Anuradha Vijayakrishnan

Selected Poetry by Anuradha Vijayakrishnan

Photo Source: Public Domain Pictures

Places and things

Crevices where we hid

from other things that scared us

Caves where darkness

spoke to us, mothered

us beneath soft wings till we flew again

Corners where cobwebs coiled around

fingers, dust dropped from our eyelashes like tears

Coffins carried lightly away,

leaving behind

slight emptiness and melted candles

Clocks running backwards

saving us from

time, angled hands

camouflaging our story

Corridors and closets with doors double locked, carved

lion’s head handles twisted upside down, bound into silence

with charms and chants

Slow light of moon gently

tearing the night apart

into the bright and the unlit.

Clefts that appear

on earth, in the sky.

Those who fall from the sky

You must be brave, his mother says,

do not look down.

Trust the sun.

Save your breath for when you

fall short. Raise your arms like this --

she shows him how

to make wings of his plump limbs.

How she

holds him in pride and sorrow. Because she can never

fly. She was born to crawl on barren soil, to bleed

hope and slowly die.

He will rise like the baby moon. The winds will be

kind to him, everything light in the world

every floating bubble of air will hold hands

as he falls.

And everyone on earth will look up and

forever blame the sun.

My list of things

Orange coloured toffees that last a whole sticky sweet

day. Tall tales smelling of moth balls and deadly

rust. Faded colours on

sun washed walls.

My teenage self.

Looking back in wonder

at that self. Our selves.

Tiny azure fish coming to kiss my fingers because

they see something I can give.

Fish swimming

away happily.

Everything I cannot. Climb mountains, cross rivers, learn

how a thread slips through needle’s eye

unhurt. What remains to be seen.

Every single heartbeat.


Sometimes we must laugh as the ragged man


swaying at the back of his bus, metal searing skin, sweat trailing dusty neck slipping over aching ribs, cracked throat. Laughs remembering jokes brother made as they fished in the distant fat river where the sun comes to swim every day. As wife laughs, children laugh when they listen to letters he writes them on nights he cannot sleep, cannot dream. Must laugh with our eyes rising like early stars on a tattered night quilted over broken mountains. Laugh into the pits of our knotted stomach where pain is a stale promise.

Sometimes we must laugh as the woman


unnoticed, shoulders bent over quaint treasures discovered, unfinished work, children, songs buzzing in her head, worries and hopes that never meet. Laughs as her ashen shadow drops like an omen on the horizon, tilts across your doorstep like a falling tree. Ghost in the cupboard, cheerful poltergeist waking your sleep, shaking your windows, tumbling your pillows as she laughs.

Must laugh like sea rising to swallow land, storm

making greedy landfall.


There are these women who live in my house. Some pay rent, some do not.

One of them wears flowers, says exquisite prayers in her head at the cusp of night and day,

believes what she hears, has faith.

Another barely wakes in the morning, swoops across busy roads chasing butterflies, hides

behind walls till dark, bathes in blood if you believe the legend.

One or two lurk outside in the bougainvillea clutter, camouflaged by thorn and dry leaves,

feeding on scraps dropping from windows, broken bones, bits of burnt

skin discarded. Pretend to be moths, scavenge on secrets. These ones

guard us from any harm from others.

Then there are those in picture frames, others under the stairs.

Most of us get along

very well. On days when gloom hangs like curtains

over disconsolate earth,

we light a fire, engulf

ourselves in heat, brew a song to fill our cups, raise

a toast to the homeless.

Anuradha Vijayakrishnan is an Indian writer and retail banker living in UAE. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, CVV2, The Madras Courier, Asian Cha and The Lake. She was recently featured in the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English (2020) and her work has been translated into Chinese and Italian.