Women I love by Bliss Cua Lim

The following just connected so many dots that I long wanted to connect…Dr Neelakantan’s brief discourse on “sisterhood feminism”, mom’s story about an old woman who was travelling with her puerile husband in the same compartment as mom and the instant where “only women can see the hidden strength with which women deal with the men they love while struggling against servility”…

Thank you for the words, Bliss Cua Lim 🙂

Women I Love
Bliss Cua Lim

Listen:
One afternoon, I saw a woman
lift her head and wonder why no one stood
beside her in the train,
touching the back of her neck or maybe
whispering or smiling into her eyes.
I thought I caught her thinking,
Who sees me?
I knew she craved a lover who would
linger over her body,
cherish her strength,
return her tenderness.
I knew she had not found this love among men.
How like my mother she was.
How thankful I am for the ways
women can sometimes love each other.
There is something truer there than desire.
It is wondrous for me to see a woman
with a child’s delicate ace, and calloused, capable hands.
I love the woman who has strength enough to do anything
except hide her own strength.

I have known women whose laughter was like bells
because you knew they had been wounded before.
I prize women who look best
barefoot in their bedclothes, tousled and tired.
I know women who remember the unremarked beauty of
these tired women.
I understand women who claim to hate children
but shied their nephews from the wrath of loving parents.
And I marvel at the women who serve the men they love
while always struggling against servility.

Their quick anger,
their light slumber,
their early morning voices on the phone.
I love nape and collarbone,
a cheek wet with tears,
the line of the arm, of the ankle,
and the infinite expressiveness of their hands when
they speak,
or touch themselves, or me.

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Marginalia by Billy Collins

Never thought I would read a poem about such a trivial subject that goes unnoticed even though one is constantly indulged in marginalia 🙂 Amazing thought, amazing read!

Marginalia
Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive—
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!”—
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page—
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil—
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet—
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”

Leftovers from last night!

When my fusty little room is brimming
with leftovers as these from a certain meeting –
your big winter jacket with leather straps,
your weathered pocket book with local road maps,
your box of matches about half-empty,
loose, scattered coins about twenty or thirty,
all left behind on the tabletop, in the dark;
the poetry book you lovingly bookmarked,
the wilting red rose in a fat milk bottle,
my drugged slumber too powerful to throttle;
(hence) your unread message pasted to the door,
with a promise to meet again and so much more,
in the winter garden beyond the street
like crazy teenage lovers, reckless, indiscreet –
I’d buy a glass bowl with that loose change perhaps,
into which would go one of your leather straps,
the wilting rose pressed in my book of poems,
your love message rolled into the bottle,
and a page or two from the tattered guide;
and that bowl will stand by my bedside…
while we steal away into the gleaming moonlight,
with aim and hope to renew our promise by daylight
and thus I mark newer objects for the bowl daily
until all that is yours becomes mine slowly
and all that is mine, yours…
Then we belong to the bowl of memories,
just the two of us, the two of us entirely.
The next winter in the white winter garden
under the falling white snow,
swaying to familiar winter songs,
in a silent bliss,
we might just wonder if
we are that couple in a snow globe!

Two lovers

Two lovers

For You by Kim Addonizio

For you I undress down to the sheaths of my nerves.
I remove my jewelry and set it on the nightstand,
I unhook my ribs, spread my lungs flat on a chair.
I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine.
I spill without staining, leave without stirring the air.
I do it for love. For love, I disappear.

Lost in translation – 1

The following are the lyrics of one of my best-loved songs.

The song is written by Tamil poet, literary genius, Vairamuthu for Anbe Sivam (2003).

(Male)Poo vaasam poorappadam pennae
Naan poo varainthaal
Thee vanthu viral soodum kannae
Naan thee varainthal

(Female)Uyirallathellaam uyir kollum endraal,
Uriyulla naanoe ennaguvaen?

(M)Uyir vaangidum oviyam neeyadi…

(M)Puli saernthu, puli saernthu oviyam,
Ullam saernthu, ullam saernthu kaaviyam!

(F)Koadu koadu oviyatthin bhaagame,
Oodal poda kaadhal endru aagumae,

(M)Oru vaanam varaiyil neela vannam,
Nam kaadhal varaiyil aena vannam?

(F)Yen vetkathai thira thottu, viralaendum pole kondu
Nam kaadhal varaivome, vaa.

(F)Oviyatthin jeevan enga ullathu?
(M)Ottru paarkkum aanil kannil ullathu.

(F)Pennudambil kaadhal engu ullathu?
(M)Aan thodaatha bhaagam thannil ullathu.

(F)Nee varaiya therintha, oru navigna kavignan
Penn vasaiyam therintha, oru nalintha kalaignan

(M)Megathai aimaattri maan saerum malai pola,
madiyodu vilunthaaye, vaa…

As much as I hate the fact that I cannot understand more than a couple  of words of Tamil language, I feel helpless about the fact that there are hardly any translators out there who can translate these  precious pieces of art(poetry written for Tamil cinema) into other Indian and foreign languages without diluting or trans-mutating the essence, the thought, and the sensibility of the poet. I suffer much more from occasionally coming across brutally mangled versions of these poems in Telugu (dubbed versions) cinema.

However, this is a very good English translation by blogger Jil Jil Ramamani.

Good News

I sat up in bed,
for hours, to make up
for the tears shed
in vain, by drinking
water from little
bottles of different
colors and shapes,
on a cold night in
February, listening
to a late-night radio
phone-in programme,
letting the coldness
in the air
take over my mind
by penetrating the skin
to make me thought-free.

A song too many I bore,
with no promise
of relief
for an overburdened
mind and also, bladder,
until he called in
who said
he was prepared
to die exactly
two hours,
twenty minutes and
forty-two seconds later.
I pulled the rug over,
turned the volume up,
RJ cleared his throat,
the caller said,
“Hello, I wanna talk.”

Spurned in love,
voice weakened by
hunger and sorrow,
the caller told
his story of dejection,
the usual.
Thirty minutes of
negotiations later
the caller said,
“I think I still have to.”
The call got
disconnected there.
RJ said, “Uh-oh, well,
enjoy the next song.”
I drifted off to sleep.
The next two days
I checked
the papers
for the bad news
and somehow,
there was none.

P.S. The radio part actually happened two nights back. The good Samaritan RJ took the call offline while he played the song for the listeners.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Susanna’s Seven Husbands

Susanna, sixteen and sweet as honey
loved a boy in her Spanish class.
Cute he was, hadn’t much money,
but soon exchanged rings of brass.
Features fine, manners he lacked many;
soon into his grave she let him pass!

A pleasant gentleman made her stop
at his backyard daily where his roses grew.
He too watched, shyly, at her coffee shop
pretty Susanna who was nearly twenty-two.
Married when, in a letter, the question popp’d
but his laconic love made poison bid him adieu!

Touring the world, she met a rich man;
talkative, humorous, a handsome Dutch.
A man of many hobbies – he wrote,swam,ran…
He loved to talk – of his hobbies and such;
She wedded him when they visited Japan;
also, aptly silenced him as he talked too much!

Thirty, lovelier, more mature,
took to poetry in her idle evening hours;
would read and relish lines so pure
by tranquil poets of love, nature, stars…
So married she, out of innocent allure;
a poet, infidel – soon pushed up daisy flowers!

Forty and pretty, love she did crave;
found a doctor, her suitor, lovable for sure.
After marriage, more and more love he gave,
said often, “For my sadness, it’s the cure…”
till the day she plonked him into his grave.
She thought his love too selfish to endure!

For a very brief period, she married a professor
-a scientist, genius, unselfish, naive-
for he said, “Marry me now,” in a puerile manner
and waited very long, from husband one to five.
At the end of a month, she, with an electric driller,
bored him to death – as he did, in a way, when alive!

The last of her husbands, but not the least-
he loved her in a way she hadn’t known before…
Sixty, as old as she, handsome, was a holy priest;
Prince Charming was he, the stuff of folklore.
Not a day into wedlock he was among the deceased…
because true love they finally got; and so, she too was no more!

P.S. The inspiration to write on this particular subject came from the title of one of Ruskin Bond’s short stories, ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’, on which the yet to be released Bollywood flick, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is supposedly based. Though I don’t know a single detail further about the short story as such, I picked up hints from the promos of the film (of it being a dark comedy, of  there being murders of husbands etc. ) to conjure up this amateurish play of words to convey my own imagination of a dark story about Susanna’s seven husbands.

P.P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day. This is the primary inspiration to write about love. It had to be dark because it’s my blog and today I celebrate the first anniversary of my blog.