CONTEMPORARY INDIAN POETRY – K. Satchidanandan, poems

BURNT POEMSI am a half-burnt poem. Yes, you guessed right, a girl’s love poem. Girls’ love poems have seldom escaped fire: father’s fire, brother’s fire, even mother’s, an heirloom. Only some girls half-escape: those half-charred ones, we call Sylvia Plath, Anna Akhmatova or Kamala Das. Some girls, to escape fire, hide their desire under the veil of piety: thus is born a Meera, an Andal, a Mahadevi Akka. Every nun is a burnt love-poem, addressed to the ever-young Jesus. Rarely, very rarely, one girl learns to laugh at the world, with that tender affection only women are capable of. Then the world names her Wislawa Szymborska. Of course, Sappho: she was saved only as her love poems were addressed to women.24POETRY.COVER

THE FOXFox is my name. Dying of cunning. Trapped in my own tricks. Not wanted by the Woods nor the village. Hunted down from sunlight to moonlight. First I discovered fire. That grew wild and burnt down the forest. Then I invented the wheel. That turned into tanks and sowed death all over the earth. Then I invented wings. They turned into fighter-planes, and filled stars with darkness. I invented war and spread hatred among friends. I sold arms to kin so that they may fight one other. As they fell I came out from behind flowers, looking for blood. Thickets no more hide me; nor valleys provide shelter. Rivers refuse me water. Sparrows nudge me and fly away. Hares unite against me. Forest-paths no more lead me to victory. My howl of triumph, is now a suppressed sob. With my power I can now punish only myself. Oh, Bodhisattwa, once you took my form; now teach me your simple ways. Give my thoughts the voice of love. Fill my begging bowl with milk instead of blood. Teach me, Bodhisattwa, how to survive myself.

(K. Satchidanandan)

English version




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