Salt and Pepper


My eyes devoured
the exotic blackness on the
pink stone loaded with history
lying in the dark corner of
the Professor’s
semi-circular room,
the room with a silver samovar
boiling and trembling with
Indian tea.

I need not
to decipher the Persian alphabet
engraved on the darkening little
pieces of masjids, some centuries old.

The Professor in Persian gently moved
in his room
touching his antiques with his mahical
wand, the tales of his research.

Shahejahan sipped his tea from his
China cup, and I from mine,
saluting the Professor with
Moghul etiquette;

“Allah! Allah!
Om! Om!”—It was that
broken pink and white tile
echoing and reverberating those sounds
in that semi-circular, low roofed room;
so oppressively silent
in the fakir’s hut
so loudly eloquent here.
Fixed in a masjid first and a temple later
it was soaked in history.

Never will the professor be able to
squeeze all its tales, the wonderful tales
of Allah and Om
multiplying in number and enhancing in power
building contemporary monuments
in the minds of the visitors sipping
tea in the Professor’s dark room.

Little Ones

Time will not wait
for you

If you pause
to wind your watch.

The newspaper reads well
nothing is happening

It was a fatal accident
my mind encountered yours
some moments breathed their last

Children play
with toys

adults with their

I would like
to play
a game of cards

like that old, old man
who has discovered
his guts at last.

Now since the flowers
dance in the breeze
and the trees
bow in their green glory

the sand dunes of the
spread their grainy presence
in my memory.

As my eyes tailed
the sparrow

building a nest
straw by straw

I became a mother
of three chicks.

Winter Poems at Minnesota

Where the snow smiles
in the moonlight

Buried below
lie the flowers
that bloom in summer

It’s snowing outside

Wave after wave
Strangers bond
In warmth

Black snow on the road
Is treacherous
as the white night
At full moon
Snowflakes float in mid air

Looking for the ground
To settle or
Melt away

Under the bridge
The white sheet of river

Emotions in cold storage

This is metropolitan snow
Screaming police vans
And death bells
of ambulances
pierce the silence
Not the whistling of the breeze
Nor the singing birds.

Mountains of snow sitting snugly
protected by gods and mythology
in the laps
of sacred Himalayas

Down here
Snow cleared
With machines and shovels.

Snow women

on the white streets
of the white continent.

A little before every stop
The wrinkled voice rose from the
Folds of the tattered coat
“This is my stop
This is where I get down”

But he never got off the bus
into the snow outside
He had no destination.

The smell of fresh snow
Blowing off
the sands of desert
In the mind

Sowing seeds

Flakes of snow
Dwindling and tossing

Constructing virginity

For the sun in spring
to melt it away.

The autocratic white
Of snow-mounds

noise and colour.

Emperor penguins
Hold their babies
in their body folds
through months of
Arctic blizzards and snow

Ruling with
Power over the universe.

The Oaks of Summerhill

Ancient oaks
pregnant with
untold tales,
witnesses of
unwritten history,
twist and turn
spreading over
mute mountains

Oaks and sages
share their wisdom,
tuned to the
orchestrated din
of the invisible insects
from the forest folds.

Babies grow in love
and the aged
curl in confident wrinkles…

all in faith
the faith of love
in the face of death.

The Myth of Re-creation

The white of the bark
Is the frozen heart of the white
Turned white when Columbus landed on the shores
of what he thought, the land of spices

The deepening red of the leaves every fall thence
Is not the sudden blushing of the damsel
It is the blood of the Indians rising from
The womb of the earth below
Forever pregnant
with the lava of unrecorded genocide
Streams of leaves dropping as tears

Every inch savagely cultivated
Beauty a metaphor of atrocity
Moments of joy
Pumped from lungs on ventilators
Men and women in love
their hearts beating on pacemakers

Staking their riches at our casinos
They will lose
So said the Chief each year
We’ll get our land back
With their money,
Let the season pass.

An established poet and critic, Sukrita Paul Kumar (born in Kenya) was an invited poet and Fellow at the prestigious International Writing Programme, Iowa, USA. Former Fellow of IIAS (Shimla), and honorary faculty at Durrell Centre at Corfu, Greece, she has published several collections of poetry, translations, critical works and has held exhibitions of her paintings. She held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi. Her latest collection of poems is Vanishing Words (Hawakal).