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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