Three Poems

    By Shobhana Kumar

    1. How to stop crying

    From a leaf in Paati’s diary, 4.12.1943

    Learn to stop them mid-way
    like pranayama,
    hold them until they brim
    but not over.

    Grow flowers.
    You will see how fragility
    can yield tenderness,
    each petal, the result
    of a trigger.

    Pile them
    like unwanted linen
    in crevices
    you don’t want to reach

    Draw inspiration
    from women
    in remote desert villages
    who learn to make do
    without water
    and sand their used vessels.

    Rub that sand into wounds
    over and over and over again
    till wound meets blood
    meets hurt
    to that one point
    when all pain ceases
    into one shoreless

    Repeat for best rest results
    Pick the method most appropriate for different times

    *Published on the Prajna blog, Four Good Words, 2021

    2. Lace

    I hate it, she says,
    needling a delicate filigree
    into foam-white spools.

    You hate beauty?
    is the collective question
    from fellow-workers,
    each, pausing from their daily
    wage time.

    Look at it, she says.
    It tells you
    to care, pamper,
    watch over, nourish, cherish,
    treasure, hoard, keep away.

    It’s good for metre
    and rhyme, perhaps,
    but tell me,
    does your husband handle
    you like you do lace?

    3. Post-mortem

    His postgraduate certificate is tucked away in an old steel trunk. Every other day, he answers calls on his mobile phone and sets out to work. Anything goes. For the last month or so, he has been a painter for a new high-rise. This one has fifteen storeys.
               between orange and pink
               a sky full
               of bucket lists
    Today, he caresses a stray strand of hair from his wife’s forehead as he leaves. He slips from the fourth floor, trying to save a fellow painter from falling.
    They want to file a report saying he was an alcoholic. She spends the next five years fighting to prove he was not.
                broken a kite falls into the sewer
    Part of ‘A Sky Full of Bucket Lists’, Red River, 2021

    Shobhana Kumar has two collections of poetry: The Voices Never Stop (2012) and *Conditions Apply (2014), from Writers Workshop, Kolkata. Her work has been anthologised in journals and books of poetry and Japanese short forms. Her poem, ‘Just Married’ was selected and translated by Gulzar in his monumental work, A Poem a Day, published by HarperCollins, in 2020. She has authored six books of non- fiction covering biographies, corporate, industrial, and educational histories. Her short stories have been published or are forthcoming in a few anthologies. Kumar is Poetry Editor of Sonic Boom Journal and its imprint, Yavanika Press. She is co-curator at The Quarantine Train, a writing collective founded by Arjun Rajendran. Here, she is part of the team that envisions the collective’s long-term goal of building a nurturing, warm community for writers, aspiring and established. She also works in the spaces of corporate communication, branding and advertising, and education. Along with a group of friends, she runs Small Differences, an NGO that works with elderly, abandoned people, the transgender community and extremely vulnerable populations.

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