Walking into my poem
she sat like a metaphor
on hunger, her child slung
on her shoulders,
nothing to cover an inflated stomach.
Whenever I saw that page,
on which this desolate poem lived,
this woman’s eyes screamed at me,
words buzzed around her face
like black flies that she carelessly waved away,
as I tried to flee in panic.
But a poem is no car.
There are no windows I can roll up
to evict her from my world
and so she kept sitting in my poem
asking for justice.
If your lover is afflicted with diabetes
don’t abandon him,
His heels might stop lending support
as if he were no longer bound by gravity,
a lone meteor traversing through the universe.
Maybe rub his feet to make them warm.
He might ask you to crack open his heel with a horseshoe
so that he knows his two unfeeling feet
are still alive, as if they are his own
and confess to you that a mouse
is nibbling on his heart.
Kill that mouse, so that it doesn’t eat up your lover’s heart,
after all, your old name is scribbled there.
He will show you red blisters that pierce his legs
and say that it is a grand colony of ants
who are under the impression that his skin is made of roads
on which they won’t stop running.
He will ask you to uproot their world
and tell you, ‘They don’t let me sleep.’
About his high blood pressure, he will say,
that a monkey is swinging on his head
as if it were a tree, and little red lychees keep falling —
their red rinds are hiding under his hair,
biting his flesh.
Your youngest child will rush through the door
and announce that ants are partying on spilt urine on the toilet floor.
Your lover will giggle, hiding his pain,
and you too must laugh along, sharing the hurt.
Listen patiently, for this illness doesn’t come alone
it brings along a lid that doesn’t let kidneys drink blood,
deposits cholesterol in the canals of arteries,
as his gut cries for food like a hungry beggar outside a temple.
Always keep a biscuit or a piece of bread at arm’s length.
don’t shy away from his bad breath.
His teeth have been wounded like deer in the wild.
Help him, don’t abandon your lover
who craves life like a rooster
caught in a butcher’s grip.
Leena Malhotra Leena Malhotra is based in Delhi, India. She likes to explore experiences of contemporary India, and write on systemic forms of oppression and various social issues. She is a poet, a film writer and a film direct. She has two books of poetry and is presently directing a film titled ‘An Afternoon ‘.