60 Indian Poets (2008)
remember the urgent knocking of the
small fist before a school elocution,
running into a nun round a corner
made idiot by that prim mouth,
flawless skirts. There were
deputations to the sitting room
home, to ask some muddy-booted,
visitor about tea.
quivering emotion belonged perhaps
quiet bedrooms on winter afternoons
near-forgotten, hill-encircled towns
children lisped tentative answers
the questions of some serene matriarch,
ate, anguished by undisguisable crunching,
brittle butter biscuits from her tins.
slow ordeal between the window’s lace
the fire burning in the grate
the established manner of being young.
be shy now is odd or impolite: no one
it. There’s no longer the implication
grace in being reserved. Yet doggedly
remain the girl once bent over a shirt
Sundays, ironing alone through afternoons
by the monsoon’s whimsical light.
was only when coloured dream matched
pressing to perfection of stiffened cuff
pleated skirt, that I possessed all the clarity,
the beauty in the world.