Thursday, 6 October 2011

Poems of Kamala Das- Part III

My Grandmother's House
There is a house now far away where once
I received love……. That woman died,
The house withdrew into silence, snakes moved
Among books, I was then too young
To read, and my blood turned cold like the moon
How often I think of going
There, to peer through blind eyes of windows or
Just listen to the frozen air,
Or in wild despair, pick an armful of
Darkness to bring it here to lie
Behind my bedroom door like a brooding
Dog…you cannot believe, darling,
Can you, that I lived in such a house and
Was proud, and loved…. I who have lost
My way and beg now at strangers’ doors to
Receive love, at least in small change?


Winter
It smelt of new rains and of tender
Shoots of plants- and its warmth was the warmth
Of earth groping for roots… even my
Soul, I thought, must send its roots somewhere
And, I loved his body without shame,
On winter evenings as cold winds
Chuckled against the white window-panes.

Relationship
This love older than I by myriad
Saddened centuries was once a prayer
In his bones that made them grow in years of
Adolescence to this favored height; yes,
It was my desire that made him male
And beautiful, so that when at last we
Met, to believe that once I knew not his
Form, his quiet touch, or the blind kindness
Of his lips was hard indeed. Betray me?
Yes, he can, but never physically
Only with words that curl their limbs at
Touch of air and die with metallic sighs.
Why care I for their quick sterile sting, while
My body’s wisdom tells and tells again
That I shall find my rest, my sleep, my peace
And even death nowhere else but here in
My betrayer’s arms...

Love
Until I found you,
I wrote verse, drew pictures,
And, went out with friends
For walks…
Now that I love you,
Curled like an old mongrel
My life lies, content,
In you….

Punishment in Kindergarten
Today the world is a little more my own.
No need to remember the pain
A blue-frocked woman caused, throwing
Words at me like pots and pans, to drain
That honey-coloured day of peace.
‘Why don’t you join the others, what
A peculiar child you are!’
On the lawn, in clusters, sat my
schoolmates sipping
Sugarcane, they turned and laughed;
Children are funny things, they laugh
In mirth at others’ tears, I buried
My face in the sun-warmed hedge
And smelt the flowers and the pain.
The words are muffled now, the laughing
Faces only a blur. The years have
Sped along, stopping briefly
At beloved halts and moving
Sadly on. My mind has found
An adult peace. No need to remember
That picnic day when I lay hidden
By a hedge, watching the steel-white sun
Standing lonely in the sky.

Summer in Calcutta
What is this drink but
The April sun, squeezed
Like an orange in
My glass? I sip the
Fire, I drink and drink
Again, I am drunk
Yes, but on the gold
of suns, What noble
venom now flows through
my veins and fills my
mind with unhurried
laughter? My worries
doze. Wee bubblesring
my glass, like a brides
nervous smile, and meet
my lips. Dear, forgive
this moments lull in
wanting you, the blur
in memory. How
brief the term of my
devotion, how brief
your reign when i with
glass in hand, drink, drink,
and drink again this
Juice of April suns.

The Sunshine Cat 
They did this to her, the men who know her, the man
She loved, who loved her not enough, being selfish
And a coward, the husband who neither loved nor
Used her, but was a ruthless watcher, and the band
Of cynics she turned to, clinging to their chests where
New hair sprouted like great-winged moths, burrowing her
Face into their smells and their young lusts to forget
To forget, oh, to forget, and, they said, each of
Them, I do not love, I cannot love, it is not
In my nature to love, but I can be kind to you.
They let her slide from pegs of sanity into
A bed made soft with tears, and she lay there weeping,
For sleep had lost its use. I shall build walls with tears,
She said, walls to shut me in. Her husband shut her
In, every morning, locked her in a room of books
With a streak of sunshine lying near the door like
A yellow cat to keep her company, but soon
Winter came, and one day while locking her in, he
Noticed that the cat of sunshine was only a
Line, a half-thin line, and in the evening when
He returned to take her out, she was a cold and
Half dead woman, now of no use at all to men.

Forest Fire 
Of late I have begun to feel a hunger
To take in with greed, like a forest fire that
Consumes and with each killing gains a wilder,
Brighter charm, all that comes my way.    Bald child in
Open pram, you think I only look, and you
Too, slim lovers behind the tree and you, old
Man with paper in your hand and sunlight in
Your hair... My eyes lick at you like flames, my nerves
Consume ; and, when I finish with you, in the
Pram, near the tree and, on the park bench, I spit
Out small heaps of ash, nothing else.  But in me
The sights and smells and sounds shall thrive and go on
And on and on. In me shall sleep the baby
That sat in prams and sleep and wake and smile its
Toothless smile. In me shall walk the lovers hand
In hand and in me, where else, the old shall sit
And feel the touch of sun.  In me, the street-lamps
Shall glimmer, the cabaret girls cavort, the
Wedding drums resound, the eunuchs swirl coloured
Skirts and sing sad songs of love, the wounded moan,
And in me the dying mother with hopeful
Eyes shall gaze around, seeking her child, now grown
And gone away to other towns, other arms.”

The Testing of the Sirens
The night, dark-cloaked like a procuress, brought
him to me, willing, light as a shadow,
speaking words of love
in some tender language I do not know ...
With the crows came the morning, and my limbs
warm of love, were once again so lonely...
At my doorstep I saw a pock-marked face,
a friendly smile and
a rolleiflex.  We will go for a drive,
he said.  Or go see the lakes.  I have
washed my face with soap and water, brushed
my hair a dozen
times, draped myself in six yards of printed
voile.   Ah... does it still show, my night of love?
You look pale, he said.  Not pale, not really
pale.  It's the lipstick's
anemia. Out in the street, we heard
The sirens go, and I paused in talk to
weave their wail with the sound of his mirthless
laughter. He said,
they are testing the sirens today. I am
happy. He really was lavish with words.
I am happy, just being with you.
But you . . . you love another,
I know, he said, perhaps a handsome man,
a young and handsome man. Not young,
not handsome, I thought, just a filthy snob.
It's a one-sided love,
I said.  What can I do for yoou? I smiled
A smile is such a detached thing, I wear
it like a flower. Near the lake, a pregnant
girl bared her dusky
breasts and washed them sullenly.  On the old
cannon-stand, crows bickered over a piece
of lizard-meat and the white sun was there
and everywhere . . .
I want your photo, lying-down,
nineteen-thirty-four guns, he said,
against those rusty nineteen-thirty-four guns,
will you ? Sure. Just arrange my limbs and tell
Me when to smile. I
shut my eyes, but inside eye-lids, there was
no more night, no more love, or peace, only
the white, white sun burning, burning, burning...
Ah, why does love come to me like pain
again and again and again?


2 comments:

  1. Can you plz post the poem MIDDLE AGE...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. can u please post the poem "honour"

    ReplyDelete