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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