until death do us apart

her elders decided that she go with you.
she fed her dreams into the village well,
and wept as she drew water for the last time.

that night u tore into her flesh,
she cried out and bit into her lip.
after that, the shadows on the wall
of trembling mango leaves became her lover,
she imagined their thousand caresses
and quivered as you used her.

you decided when you should hear her and when not.
so she silenced the utensils and your babies.
and she stopped her tears in her belly.

she bore you three sons who would loathe you,
yet grow up to be you.
and a daughter with clammy palms.
the boys moved away young, bombay called.
the girl married off to a landed man who loved men.
and the years from then on crawled.

when the manhood that had risen and
thrust with arrogance forgot how to,
the back of your hand cracked on her face,
and silenced her silence.

this until your body grew weak
and your skin crawled away from your flesh
and one morning your body lay still.

as you slipped away she prayed and
wept and beat her breasts
the marrow of her bones and the breath of her life
she would give if she could, she wailed,
for what would become of her if you were gone.

she has learnt to be a shadow
and she learnt to be the shade.
she has learnt to rise from death at dawn.
why would she rise again
when her rhyme and reason is gone.

© 2007 Padmavani Karkera

Comments

  1. Heartfelt, harsh and truly painful....your words show and feel the pain. Good writing!

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  2. Thanks Vidya! Glad you liked this one... its close to my heart :)

    Cheers

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  3. Wow! What a tough, tough poem. But you've done such an amazing job with a difficult and painful story that reads a bit like a morality play. My favorite lines: "the shadows on the wall
    of trembling mango leaves became her lover,
    she imagined their thousand caresses." Great Work!

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  4. This is very powerful, PK-- the power of course is in your selection of intense visual details that convey the anguish-- the back of the hand, as Ami said, the mangoes..gorgeous! xxxj

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  5. Excellent narrative poem that spans so much time and is very beautifully written. Cheers

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  6. Painful and powerful, very evocative.
    http://cathykozak.com

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  7. Thank you for visiting Ami, Jenne, Dustus and Cathy. This is the reality of millions of women/relationships and there are so many dimensions to this, best to leave it at narration.

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  8. Paradoxically, your words point to the wordlessness of experience with such subtlety. This poem has left emotions thrumming in my body and mind. Powerful work, Padma!

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  9. indeed a heartfelt and powerful told story - filled with deep sadness and emotions

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  10. Excellent, perfect story-spouting work.

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  11. Ok, let me dry my eyes first so that I can actually comment. Oh my! I am lost for words but, I can feel the pain, the mixed emotions and love/hate in this poem. Oh found my words, guess it was easy describing how I felt while reading your words.

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  12. You are truly awesome Padmavani! I am so glad I chanced upon your blog on the FB forum. I am at http://kriti-howaboutthis.blogspot.com - would love to have you over : )

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