Women of the Land where pain blooms like poppy and Other Poems

By Sarita Jenamani


Dedicated to the sisters in war ravaged countries

At the end of the day
When the words died out in sentences
and men hang on clotheslines
like starched sheets
and the barbaric chaos of war-odour
perpetually engulfs and numbs them
and when their blue-emerald eyes
become a mere myth

Then the women of those lands
where pain blooms like poppies
realise that there is no hope
that the dust over ancestors’ graves
will ever settle down
there will be no fragrant-spring morning
to herald the future

Instead a cryptic paroxysm
will invade their homes and hearts
a freeze-frame of time
spreads over the world‘s dark mutability
forcing those sisterly silhouettes
to sink into darkness

In penetrating intimacy of darkness
these women will strike roots silently
and turn themselves
into a matrix
with profound possibilities


Dawn with its scarlet pride
Shimmers in the fierce water
of the sacred river
with all its glory and myth
Morning breeze unfolds itself
like an eternal mantra in the spirit of hour
and evokes its own divinity
over this pilgrimage town
You come here to find
the eternal love
of Krishna for Radha

And instead in the cobweb
of its obscure streets
you find them
stripped bare of flickering grace
of their distant adolescent dreams

Betrayed by the sacred fire
they never rise like a phoenix
but shatter like the shadow of the dead
They carry other‘s darkness
and succumb in silence to the sorrow
of their own missing lives

These women in shrouds
the widows in this pilgrimage town
roam through its streets
miles away from their imagined home
and gather tears
to stitch their own shrouds

A shroud
A symbol of an amaranthine grief
and that of a maggot-eaten society
A society without glory
that grows on women’s corpses
its root wraps around
their disfigured dead hearts

Sarita Jenamani Sarita Jenamani is an India-born Austria-based poet, essayist, literary translator, anthologist, editor of a bilingual magazine for migrant literature – Words & Worlds – a human rights activist, a feminist and general secretary of PEN International’s Austrian chapter. Her poetry that has so far been published in three collections. English is the chief medium of her creative process. The other two languages she writes in are; Odia, the state language of the place of her origin Odisha and German, the language of her country of residence, Austria. She employs these languages for the translation. Jenamani has translated Rilke, Rose Ausländer, both leading Austrian poets, from German in Odia and Hindi respectively. She has edited an anthology of contemporary Austrian poetry from German into Odia. She has received many literary fellowships in Germany and in Austria including those of the prestigious organisations of ‘Heinrich Boll Foundation and ‘Kunstlerdorf Schoppingen’.

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