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Two Poems

by Anuradha Vijayakrishnan


Arthur Dove, ‘Tree’, watercolour, tempera and ink on paper, 12.7 x 17.8 cm, 1935/ Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tree Rings

Count the circles under my eyes. There is one
for every passing year, every era laid
to rest, safely embalmed, concealed. Layered
beneath detritus of falling eyelashes and congealed
kohl.  Observe their rhythmic concentricity, how
they have formed so naturally, ripples on brown bark
to mark growth, wisdom and many kinds of loss. Some day,
a scientist will run curious hands over these
marks, marvel at how life preserves its own stories, attempt
to measure what might have passed. People will teach
children how trees grow old, just standing
in a forest.

 

The Assembled Skeleton

I am held together by wires and rusting studs. Solid metal hooks
dangle my skull high, not pride.

My makers must be proud of their work; I am fashioned from bones,
so fastidiously gathered.

I have a pedestal and my own dusty box of clear glass. Perhaps, I have
a given name too.

My joints have been assembled from memory. They do not all belong,
meet or exactly match, but have survived.

I do not remember if I am man, woman or any other. My post-mortem-
scars have long disintegrated.

Sometimes, I hear voices calling but they are all different, all hopelessly
dead inside me.

I am blind, of course, and mostly hollow. Murderers and their murdered –
both lurk in spaces between my ribs.

When a strong wind blows outside, there is a slight dance I dance. I must
seem ghoulish in the dark.

At night, ghosts visit me to gaze on bits of their own, passing like damp
through my emptiness.

Sometimes I am tired too, all I want is to decay, crumble, be scattered
equally over all the lands I died in.

Those who pause to stare at me, they must have eerie smiles, emptied
out pits for eyes too.

Amongst them might be a cranium shaped like mine, familial jut of elbow
or familiar arch of jumbled spine.

I am afraid though of losing my balance, of tipping over unexpectedly
into strange, flesh-padded arms.

 

 

Anuradha Vijayakrishnan was born in Cochin, India. A trained singer, she followed up a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from Calicut University with postgraduate studies in Management from XLRI, Jamshedpur. Her poetry first appeared in print under the editorship of Ms. Kamala Das. Granta and British Council first published her fiction in the select New Writing anthology series. Her work has appeared in Magma, Orbis, Stony Thursday Book, The Pedestal Magazine, Soundings, Aesthetica, Asian Cha, Eclectica, Asia Literary Review, Mascara, Indian Literature and Nth Position among others. Her poetry and prose have won prizes at various literary competitions. Seeing the Girl, her debut novel, was long listed in 2007 while it was still a manuscript for the Man Asian Literary Prize. In 2010 her poetry was nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes. She is a 2010 alumna of Western Michigan University’s Prague Summer Program.