Author Archives: Madhumathy R

About Madhumathy R

Former Professor of English from Kochi, India. Holds doctoral degree in African literature; loves to read and write poems; has published poems in journals and would like to engage in discussions on literary themes.

My Mother

Every October golden memories
flap their wings to migrate
soaring near the firmament where
you rest on feather bed clouds.
Once again, my insecurities
softly cushioned, foetus-like
I snuggle close to conjured warmth.
Then on a downward flight
back to the brown soil I land.
With the salt of my eyes I prepare
steaming soft rice dumplings –
your staple breakfast – slowly solidifying
leavened bubbles of nostalgia.
How your seasoned hands measured out
my life, stumbling into right and
wrong proportions: dropping dos
and don’ts like throwing in
spoonfuls of the sweet and sour!
You brewed a broth – a lentil soup –
to start my life afresh each morning
like a queen, and never to feel satiated.

Tipping Scales

Neck to neck parallel tracks merge
and branch out, they depart to
different destinations, dreaming
to rear up their serpentine hoods,
to strike the far off heavens.
Brown caterpillars break
open their cocoons to scatter
humans, stacked to the brim
like garbs in a travelers’ bag
for separate occasions.
I stroll across to the cast iron bench.
The TV monitor overhead displays
varied emotions the actors don and doff.
Life replicated – trading off fickle feelings.
Near me a mad woman giggles,
a dreamy look fogs her eyes;
she now turns coquettish.
Tears trickle down slowly.
Ungainly movements – wheels rotate
pushing, pulling, grinding to a halt.
I sat there on the bench watching
the wheels of fortune change,
turning scales between
on-screen faked emotions
and the insane burst on the
trodden ground beside me.


Love in the time of Corona

Today is a special day, my love.
From the kitchen to the living room
in a rigmarole you move.
Fear breaks in through the window
stealthily stealing all celebrations.
Cock a snook at travel plans!!
The second wave is on….
Blowing invisible bubbles, filling the air
sweeping round the corner
fear takes a long look.
My eyes turn red or not?
Are there blushing rashes on the skin
like black weeds on a manicured lawn?
Ants move silently, lugging at
crumbs of our paranoid selves
to holes of death traps.
Incarcerated, walled in,
clinging onto our togetherness,
bickering at times and patching up
we flow and drift with the
gasping life outside.
Our celebration begins and ends
over a cup of sugarless tea.
Running eyes through the black letters
on a white paper, we murmur
a worn out, tattered ‘thank you’
to tinkling voices of love
wishing ‘Happy Anniversary’
from far beyond closed doors.

Athena’s Gift

Amidst the pinnates of leaves, every February
my laburnum sprouts dangling beads of yellow green buds.
Soon her pimply face takes on
a flawless golden complexion.
A glorious beauty, swathed in spangles
she ushers in spring before it’s due.
A gift of love, the nascent sapling
came to my hands long ago.
Fearing her clawing roots, I found her
a safe nook on the margins of my abode.
There she stands poised, lavish in looks!
Her slender branches stretch their necks
across the temple walls to offer prayers.
All through the month, to the last of March
her bewitching looks enamour the winds.
But come April! shattering all hopes
she stands denuded; bereft or exhausted?
My reluctant steps then pace up to the florist
for a measly bouquet, to adorn the cauldron,
brimming plenitude on a ‘Vishu’* dawn.
Annual rings wind days round and round
her trunk and my remaining years.
Uprooted one day from the material world
I might perch on her highest branch
and gently whisper – “Tardy through your
blossoming youth, my dear; drink in the
sap enjoying every sip; let not the wind
waft away your gifts when all look up to
you for a glittering ‘Vishu’, don’t ever
turn up a squandering spendthrift”.

  • Vishu marks the spring Equinox and celebrates an abundant harvest. It falls on the first of Medam of the Malayalam calendar.

Erasure

Run the wet mop over the floor,
take a look from a distance,
make sure footfalls are wiped clean –
I give my maid instructions.
Trying to bite the tail end of a dying year
hours and minutes roll over days and nights.
This cozy home treasures a trail
of faded footfalls – a host of trodden
imprints, from toddlers to old men,
wheel marks of potty chairs,
dotted flowers by feline paws,
geometrical patterns from rubber soles,
crutch marks from a son’s tendon tear,
classical dance steps tapping a tattoo.
The reptile motion of a wet cloth
dissolves all these and more.
Like a forgotten family tree
I used to stomp around once
spinning aspirations, scattering
agile footprints everywhere,
like lazy doodled lines.
Now, I hobble all the way
hanging onto fingertips of love.
Like Jupiter meeting Saturn
on their orbit, not bothering erasures
dear ones meet and part
as night dips a round seal
in black ink to wipe clean
the rainbow colours of vibrant earth.

Misery Unplugged

Rough, rustic and tell tale

their feet like arid land

exposed to sultry drought.

Their cracked lives sustained

by coarse labour; these gypsy

lives whose tomorrows stretch

along darkening asphalt roads…

They trudged on foot in mute

resilience; braving the crippling heat

a few dropped down in the middle

of nowhere; a journey along

rail tracks, they drifted to the land

of dreams; death arrived on

chugging wheels – like goods and

chattels scattered to pieces,

shepherded to a dreamless world.

Last week, their garden shears

pruned the plants taming

all wild growth. Today

the seeds of guilt left behind

fall on fallow conscience

and dog-eared history

jots down another

forgettable chapter.

Turbulence Let Loose

Don’t you realise how garrulous

I am inside? inside my head??

A lunatic’s prattle, thoughts race

to win no trophy, but to preoccupy.

It is a busy thoroughfare  

where there is too much traffic.

Fallen leaves litter cobbled paths

and lamp posts of memories

light up my way  through

forgotten past, regurgitating

words – spoken, heard and read.

I argue, contend and cry

inside my head….

Unperturbed outside, I

undertake adventurous trips

across perilous oceans, dense

forests and lose my way.

Sometimes I wear a motley inside

desperately trying to make you laugh.

My munificent thoughts shower

gold onto begging bowls.

Like nails struck on the

barks  of trees in Devi temples

I strike a nail on a ragdoll

To exorcise submerged turbulence

And wear a dispassionate visor.

The Final Lockdown

A scaly dinosaur

It stalked through the land

Breaking down walls

It paced the globe

Spreading dread in its wake.

People huddled inside

Setting work stations at home.

Your own hands became

A traitor to your well being

And trust became a breach.

Wash your hands inside out

Off all yesteryear sins.

The masks you wear

To protect inner secrets

Fall off, withered pale.

Distancing you and me

From its spiky touch

Not contaminated, an island unto

One’s own self – a no man’s land

Is fast looming….

Poem From A Hospital Bed

Wherein lies the horizontal comradeship

Of imaginary nationhood?

Arteries are clogged in seditious hearts.

Blazing red Satan’s eloquence…

A soul surgery – subverting scriptures and naïve history.

Misconstrued notions and divisive fragments

Make and mar a piecemeal nation.

Our earth, always a melee of shared memories…

Shifting identities – rooted and fluid.

Left or right, green or orange

Make it greener, make it fruitful

Juicy sweet, not salty-bitter.

Nuggets of pure iron imbibe rusty gold

Immersed in dregs of opiated ideology.

Polluted environs, asphyxiating politics

Millennials gasp for want of fresh air.

Oxygenate them dear mentors

Should they inherit a Lost Paradise???

Against Mosquito Nets

Be pragmatic!

We did.

We enmeshed daylight

Streaming through open windows

To trickle down as streaks of brightness

To dance on the floor in luminous spots.

Bulbuls chirped their clamour

The cat frowned, quivering whiskers

It purred aloud a plaintive protest

The neighbour’s dog watched demurely

Resting its forearms on the wall

Across the open gate.

Bloodsucking mosquitoes kept at bay

Buzzed in chorus its own dissent.

Scorching sun letting off steam

Scowled a ruddy complexion.

Timorous breeze slinked away.

Dreaming of further conquests,

April heat marched ahead its way

Trampling over a sweaty day.