ANKUR BETAGERI

GROWING UP

 

for S. (May god forgive himself for what he does to us.)

 

It happens abruptly,

one day your mother stops loving you.

 

You who were swimming

in the amniotic fluid of her love

grow cold like a toy on the floor.

 

You stand awkwardly,

your hands joined in front of the crotch.

You nod uneasily when your father introduces you to his friends

you try to relate but they don’t make much sense.

 

Girls snigger when you walk past,

you wonder why, feel strange and weak,

and the strange – a frisson – feels good in its excess.

Your skies often cloud, clear, and cloud again.

 

The streets turn you into a restless deer

you want to run, graze, and run;

but tiger eyes glare from every shop front,

you look down, hesitate, and sometimes just freeze.

 

Sunday cartoons feel silly, the afternoons are dead,

you often sit in the water tank to shake off your dread.

Evening drops a cloak of peace but its dagger stabs,

and the pain is too sharp, and deep, for speech.

 

Your body had begun to emanate a smell,

it strongly affects the squirrels and birds. You

pace the room and prepare to fly. You watch

the dogs being carried off in a van.

 

And one day a girl smiles at you. A lightning

swallows your pain. Your heart’s a rose

flung up in the sky. The rose becomes

an eagle. The eagle, a cloud.

And the cloud, as you walk, rains a song of bliss.

 

And one day the girl, smiles no more,

you are once again in the world of want.

It happens abruptly, and no one knows why,

one day your mother stops loving you.

 

STRANGE BROKEN CHILDREN

 

Sad mothers give birth to strange broken children

children who see the earth

and feel a crack passing through it all the way to the horizon

 

They are unmistakable, they have a hunted look in their eyes

and their sadness is all pervading – it stays in the smell of their books

their pencil box, sweater and in the cool darkness of their satchel.

 

They live in a silence heavy and mellow like the autumn

and when you touch their cheek your presence shivers through them

like watercolour on a blotting paper.

 

They know what eternity is though they have no language to say it in

but when they look at the sun filtering through the yellow almond leaves

you know that they can see it.

 

But sad children also give birth to strange broken mothers

mothers who see the earth

and feel a crack passing through it all the way to the horizon.

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