Vol VIII Speakeasy

This volume’s poet is ANNA SUJATHA MATHAI.

She studied English Literature at the Universities of Delhi and Bangalore, and completed a Post-Grad Degree in Social Work at the Univ. of Edinburgh.She has worked and taught in England, India, and for a short stint in the U.S.

She has 4 collections of Poetry in English. Her poems have been included in several Journals and anthologies here and abroad. She has read them at venues all over India, in Sweden, Denmark, London, Struga etc.Many of her poems have been translated into European and indian languages.She has also been much involved in the Theatre, co-founding Abhinaya Poetry/Theatre group with Snehalata Reddy in the 70s.
She writes Critical Reviews for many Journals in India and abroad.

The Hidden Flower
I reached the door
But the door was closed.

I walked the road
But found, on looking back,
The road had disappeared.

I found the love of my dreams
But had to turn and walk away.

I unclench my knotted fist,
Gaze at my empty hands
And find a small flower
of life
Hidden in my open palm.

Trapped in Amber
A fly or spider. Maybe a butterfly,

A delicate insect,
Wings spread out
In a joyous flight
Cutting through a sun-lit clearing
In dense rain forest.
Drawn to the yellow gold of amber , Caught, sucked in, drained of life.
Trapped in transparent, honey-like material,
Unyielding in its gum-like hold.
As sinister, jealous collectors
Secrete their treasure
In grave or sarcophagus
Or even laboratory,
Preserved like a resplendent pharaoh.
Framed, embalmed,
Lest some delicate feature collapse,
A precious hair escape ,
So the dead insect
Mysteriously transfixed, transformed,
Glows with life-like beauty.
In its transparent museum of amber.

Just as strangers recognize each other,
Attracted by the magnetic pull
Of the unknown face and being,
So stands the gazer speechless,
Before the mystery of anima mundi.

A Twist in the Fairy Tale

Wasn’t she once a princess, Rapunzel
or the Little Mermaid?
Letting down her long thick tresses
From the window of her dungeon,
For her golden-haired young Prince
To swing up on that strong ladder,
To come and save her from boredom and despair.
Or watching from the depths of her home in the ocean
Her Prince, the love of her life,
Upon the lit-up deck of a ship.
Wouldn’t she walk the earth
In unbearable pain
Just to be near him,
Just to know his love for a brief, measured time?
When did she become the Witch on the Hill,
Living two and a half storeys above the earth,
Peering down from her balcony
At the world rushing by indifferently below,
Leaving her isolated in the
Castle on the Hill.
The stairs to the top floor
Wind all the secret way up.
Paan stains sometimes decorate
The walls along the way,
Spat out by malign red mouths,
Testimony of viciousness,
Visiting cards of the poor!
The poems she once wrote,
And scattered as breadcrumbs
Along the forest path,
To find her way back, and
not be lost,
Have all been swept away, or
eaten by the birds.
Other people place their
warm loaves
On the table, and sup and drink.
Her cup doth not run over,
Her table is bare.
Beautiful princess
Turned into lonely witch,
Remembering her lost Prince.
Where is the goldenhaired boy
Who once said:
If I hadn’t found you
I’d still have been searching for you.
But she took a different path
And lost him For Ever.
How silent the house,
Without the laughter and magic.
He will never come to the castle,
Never find her.

He lives in the mists and snow
of a Northern country,
and is already remembering her
only as a dream
or a half-forgotten fairy tale.

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