A Hymn For Enemy and Other Poems

    By Smitha Sehgal


    Beloved, when you have let me walk barefoot
    In this dew garden of our profound estrangement
    Strewn with thorns of abandon
    I gather sombre yellow roses,
    Quietly place them by your window,
    Ache of
    Infusions course through your veins
    Open your insomniac eyes,
    Their fragrance will speak to you, autumn is way afar,
    Beyond forests of poplar

    Beloved, the colour you smear on my ears
    On irretrievable evenings of volcanic bursts
    Indelible ink of doomed hate,
    I churn them into balm of night
    Hang lanterns of forgiveness by each cave
    I know, in your ancient well, moonstones
    Precipice, green bile turns, clotted for long
    Latticed words have singed and burnt
    On your pale skin, your scythe of fury longs to be washed
    In sacrificial rain of my blood

    Beloved, that too I offer,
    Earthen tone of my hollow skin, Landscape of summer in
    Gait of my bones, Filtering through sieve
    Of autumn studded with emeralds
    Discover the glint of fire,
    Leaves of summer, abandoned baolis Wine cups of jade
    Anointing you in crimson verses,
    For, the lamp housed in your shipwrecked soul
    Is mine too, glowing, strange hymns of this universe


    when a poem isn’t about summer it must be truthful to say so,
    because when our knees have spoken about seasons and a promise to sail
    a paper boat in that riverine route bright after monsoon,
    sculpt cobalt words and leaves,
    especially leaves now become our eyes as sun diversifies into maps,
    stupor of discoveries, of elephants in coconut island, of lotophagi,
    of Ez caged in the iron bars of cantos, he sings,
    ‘a man who has lived under bars will not keep a caged animal’
    our nose grows into nodules burying cloying smell of earth trapped in our lungs,
    fears become marsh of delimbed words,
    we unentangle each leg under sun holding up reins,
    patience my love,
    on this edge of clouds above rain forest,
    when we shake our dreams of Earth made of leaves,
    golden orioles fly out high
    we plant green shoots of our promises in kingdom of Neptune
    gather harvest of summers
    so that no child ever goes to sleep hungry

    3 – TRYST

    Meet me by noon
    No, not in my study of green shoots
    Our high browed legal codes are shut
    To sparrows and cats, and mostly
    To radical black outfits of carte blanche defiance

    Meet me by noon
    No, not at yellowed neighbourhood Bistros
    They serve sparkling wine, festooned walls
    Amorous grapes of Rhone Valley
    We are by now, intoxicated unsympathetic verses

    Meet me by noon
    No, not by Lotus Pond
    They screen temperamental movies in your russet mother tongue and mine
    Drenched in third world askance
    We are liberated Anglophone migrants

    Meet me by noon
    No, not by the Sea
    Kohl eyed dancers gather our stolen glances
    Hunger marching in alleys
    We are rare trees flowering in grief

    Meet me by noon
    Meet me by Emperor’s red tomb
    Till moon sets and gates are unlocked
    Leaning on pillars of dried blood, cleaving philosophy and law
    We shall untangle knotted empathy of our shadows, bury foetus of war treaties

    Smitha Sehgal is a lawyer-poet. She writes poetry in two languages-English and Malayalam. Her poems, fiction and book reviews have featured in contemporary literary publications as Reading Hour, Brown Critique, Kritya, Muse India, The Wagon Magazine, Usawa Literary Review, Parcham, Madras Courier, Water Video Mag, Poetica Review UK (upcoming autumn issue), EKL Review, The Criterion, Kalakaumudi, Samakalika Malayalam, Kalapoorna, ShadowKraft, Da Cheung (Korean Literary Journal) and anthologies including “40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry” , “Witness -Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent.

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