IN AND OUT

APABRITA MITRA SARKAR

I
Ma
Ma’s yellow afternoon and bedside window storms
Have dripped, drizzle-like in porous walled self,
In unlikely nineteen-bodied daughter-sprite.
Kalboishakhi (and ma smiles at this quick-tongued, foreign tongue wielding alien), inherited delight.
I wake up when I hear the branches dance,
The soaring storm-song lulls me in arms like Ma’s.
I have curled up, feline child, longing, aching, tight-lipped.
And mango death, numerous, the next day,
Picking up palm-sized green premature fruit in yellow afternoon light,
I have tried to put Ma together in all her elusive, quick-sand mother love,
In shared room of summer siesta.
(It has taken years, writing Ma down on paper and letting words curve, Ma-shaped, cloud scribble.)
Not tenth or fifth but only daughter,
Longish, thin-armed, pale at 10, just beginning to bleed,
Has Ma’s eyes, less life weary,
For kitten, motherless, on the street.
Kitten, stale-milk reeking, to cat
Evening breeze presence,
Here now, there next,
Gentle touch-smothered, so that you can’t ever have them fully to yourself
Much like Ma.
Ma has left here, in the wobbly, somewhat shorter Ma-double,
Rain love, wide-eyed and incompletion.
Half-poem and story, half-self,
Half-lived.
Ma has left words, a daughter,
Ma has left.
II
Without Ma
Never knew a phenomenal- birth of river, sunrise arrow rays, high tide- way of starting a poem.
I might as well stick to the personal and remember to draw a line, skin-deep, scab line
Between me and death wounds, outside.
On the family stage, around tea table,
With grandmother kneading dough
I’m quick to pour the water, it gives me immense joy
Of being the family child, again.
But blue-grey discomfort, downward eyes
When anecdotes stinking of baby milk breath are served with tea too sweet.
Like when you peel dead skin off a scab,
Too quick, too sweet,
Pink to touch, shy beneath it,
Being at the centre makes me self-feel, self-peel,
To the quick.
Tea talk should not delve mirror-deep
Of unsure only child.
When it shifts to policy making, outside four five ten walls,
Comfortably placed on coasters,
I can put on adult voice
To opine.
Opera glasses, pity-tinted, angled at the have-nots and the bigger haves, critical.
We, middle-placed, in pink comfort place,
Can smile.
And not twist down self spirals.
(your mother was that, this, your mother was…)
Dog piss smarts upturned nose with air thicker than blood,
Up here in the family home.
And the personal cuts through,
In all its enveloping, tentacle-thrown –petty, so petty- throat girdle hold.
Leaving no space for the other.


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