Ishta-devata and Other Poems

By Indu Parvathi

1 – Ishta-devata

That summer evening, the smoke
of disquiet gathered between her voice
and thought as jackfruit chips
sizzled on the three stone stove.
At dusk, she heaped herself in portions
on notebook sheets for grand-nieces
and grand-nephews, her smiling
face in the mirror of evening relish.
By the well, she drew water to scrub
off lingering affinities from their day
to send them home as sandalwood
scented prizes for mothers. Later,
sipping the night from a brass tumbler,
she reasoned with the other inside
her hollow. After seasons, she lived
in frames on walls, peered out of trunks
as memorial pictures, congealed
to this idol, wearing her face,
her ruby nose pin, her red silk-
a goddess unified as stone.

2 – I ask you for kindness

because you are here, holding
your coffee mugs embossed
with trees, looking right
through me at reflections
in wells of laughter.

Do you see me?

Behind you,
piercing the wall,
half my torso
silenced with brick
though I rise from the elastic
earth like my kind
suckling.
Before I meld into rock
in the cast of this fissure,
stretch my shadow into reams
of smoke, untangle me into a sapling
again
to conjure a trunk
that curves away from this wall.

3 – Because her roots are bound

by porcelain walls she has no news
of others. I worry for her. Believe
me when I say she visits every day,
her drooping leaves, her form
a prayer wounded by the one
who chose her. Her roots flail
through the white carpet, leave
dust faint as her voice. Lying
in my lap, a green streak,
she listens to poems about bearing
what’s given bearing fruit mourns
her yellowing leaves tired limbs
the spider taunting her for dying
how it rained yesterday droplets
wobbling on glass how she trembled.
We nurture death potting
one plant after another traversing
gardens. Divided,
I watch, do nothing
when she dies
the next one
& the next.

Indu Parvathi is from Bengaluru, India. Her work has been published in various literary magazines including Punch Magazine, nether quarterly, Alipore Post, The Yearbook of Indian Poetry 2021,Narrow Road Journal and EKL review. Instagram – @indu.pr

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