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,
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.
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.
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.