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Kutti Revathi


The tree’s shadow
Sat still beneath its canopy
Like a Greybird

As if she wished to snatch and carry away even
The protracted silence of the street,
A girl came down sweeping

It was here that
He’d asked me to wait,
Had asked my love too

The sweeper-girl
Went away long ago, taking
The silence with her, while she kept
Turning back to stare at me

Darkness has now begun to stream down
Like tears. Enchanted and fearful,
Like a body ready at last to arrive
At its own flowering, I wait

Here . . . he walks in from afar,
Like a laden cloud about to unburden
Itself of rain
At this unbearable joy,
Red stars have begun to spring in my body

The tree, though,
Is still; not perturbed in the least—
Like a Greybird

Translated by N. Kalyan Raman

Angels We Are Not

Trees stand upright, devoid of airs
Birds roam aimlessly
Clouds, one of their species,
Are afloat without wings
It is certain now that the time of rain’s begun
Horses are deep in their practice run,
With magic awhirl in their eyes
Like vines, the colour of rain has spread
On their drenched backs and streaked down
Unknown even to the rain, the scavenger is sinking
Along with the rain’s debris
There is no better season in which
To weave the body’s history

When the snow-body, molten
In the heat of breath,
Met the eye,
Life’s fount opened its lips and flowed
In the evening, when another time called,
The body wore, and wore again, those garlands
Of fire; was gutted
In the morning that greeted and spun you around
In the zones of breath, love itself
Was Death’s scented pollen
In the hard rain that lops your head
And flings it on the ground,
As wheels turning within a wheel,
Life’s eye shrinks to its essence

It was in that city deficient
In sperm count, through which
Burdensome nights passed, that I met her

In the groves that beckoned me to understand
The loneliness she had made familiar,
Sounds of falling fruit that birds chewed and spat out
Would stun me, like someone following furtively behind

Lean cats prowling in search of dried fish
And snakes racing now and again across the courtyard
Would drag her house bereft of electricity’s hues
Towards realms of magical fiction

Trimming the lamp’s wick, and casting
On the wall a gigantic shadow of her bare body,
She would tell me shadow tales spiked
With the milk of my forefathers

Only buds that are yet to flower
Wouldn’t have heard or known such tales

She who obsessed over the body
Started a trade for its sale
After scraping clean the body’s slush
From her underclothes, and
Making the body whole,
She carried it, as in a lamp-lit
Procession at the temple festival

Wearing a radiance beyond the oppressive heat,
Everyone followed her
Like wet clothes hung up to dry,
They were worn out by lust’s torments
By and by, they pelted her with stones
Carrying her lamp, she fled down those streets
The city itself caught fire, burned

We now look on piteously
At the tents coated with the body’s ash
Firemen are still at their task
Of rescuing the body

As seedlings, several centuries ago,
Breasts sprouted in her body’s black soil
She forgets them sometimes, as they quiver
Among the straining bodies

As the sun goes down, they boom like conches —
Very close to her heart

A thread of rain enters her and unravels; then
Lust’s fangs rise all over her body

If those conches were to open their mouths,
They might speak of her body’s travails

The day destroys the night’s holy processions
In the torment of being pregnant with a word
Untouched yet by anyone’s heart, finger and lip,
Her body yearns. Yearning is what it must do.
In this rainy season of lakes filled
With ashes falling from the sky, it lives
Like a virgin-seed battened with its own fruit
Patterns drawn by a child’s fingers, distinguishing
By touch the eyes, hair
And other organs of a flower,
Have strung her body together,
As the roots of a plant grip the soil tight

In the dimples of fleshy organs sits,
Cowering, her endless hurt
We who together sip our sweet drinks
From different glasses, savour
Our separate memories alone

Standing alone in the woods and writhing
At the touch of the finger that stalks —
That continues still

When I return by the same path,
It lies there limp
Like a noose-rope broken

Flowers of the night
Are awake, like the lidless eyes
Of corpses

In the din of the body sprouting machines all over,
A child’s laughs weakly sputters
In the lash of the season’s rain.
The eye’s flame is dimmed; goes out

We are not angels, after all

Translated by N. Kalyan Raman


Breasts are bubbles, rising
In wet marshlands

I watched in awe — and guarded —
Their gradual swell and blooming
At the edges of my youth’s season

Saying nothing to anyone else,
They sing along
With me alone, always:
Of Love,

To the nurseries of my turning seasons,
They never once forgot or failed
To bring arousal

During penance, they swell, as if straining
To break free; and in the fierce tug of lust,
They soar, recalling the ecstasy of music

From the crush of embrace, they distill
The essence of love; and in the shock
Of childbirth, milk from coursing blood

Like two teardrops from an unfulfilled love
That cannot ever be wiped away,
They well up, as if in grief, and spill over

Translated by N. Kalyan Raman

I've Brought This Summer Just For You

Your chest’s meadow has dried up
You don’t write letters these days
There’s a tumult of tears
In your tempered letters
Your body’s so tender; it makes me
Want to cover you with many arms

There is no one else on this summer street, except
The postman carrying his bag of strangled letters,
And the girl who’s lost her childhood secrets
When the strange bird of summer
That drinks up all the streams in one swift gulp
Arrives quietly, the rocks too come awake
Children refuse to play
Beneath the sun that daily soaks in blood and rises
Inside an empty house,
The telephone’s been ringing for a long time now
Girls’ eyes are afloat in the haze

In an earlier summer, too hot
For trees to stand their ground,
You had called my body a live expanse
I found, when I awoke from sleep,
That the handbag where
I had stashed away your kisses
And our quarrels stiff with the salt of tears,
Had been opened
This summer that brings to mind
A doused lamp’s acrid smell,
I’ve brought along just for you
Do write me letters. Do.

Translated by N. Kalyan Raman


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