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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