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


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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