• I call her Ma

    Barnali Ray Shukla

    September 12, 2018

    Image Courtesy: Gallerist

    The fireflies in your eyes call out to mornings

    lazy under a quilt of gossamer messages on your face, 

    brown with thumbprints of yesterday 

    disrobed, memories going–

    wrinkles taut with tales that annoy you


    I live with your embers, your fumes,

    fame, your shame, fried carp, steamed rice,

    your lies and the bottled fireflies—


    I want to set them free, then you steal a glance 

    but that doesn’t make you a thief.


    Your eyes seek their flight, their night

    careen past your dreams in gibberish,

    you walk past your life, your day,

    in your sleep, seek yellow sapphire in a ring

    for me to tame Jupiter, in 12karats,

    on my right hand and on the left 

    I wear the family name on my ring finger 

    but that you found too foreign Ma


    I didn’t care for rings, you did

    I wanted myths, fables

    I wanted trust, if you must 

    know what I wanted Ma


    Your mine is yours, your years are mine,

    The sarees are yours, your fears are mine, 

    your feelings are yours, your Arnica 30 is mine, 

    your recipes, coasters, tempering, your smells are mine

    All mornings and nights are yours

    but the timings are mine


    Must you choose to live longer than your life?

    You stole a life or two but that doesn’t make you a thief Ma.


    Barnali Ray Shukla is a writer, filmmaker and a poet. Her writing has featured in journals and anthologies, including: Indian Ruminations, Sunflower Collective, OutOfPrint, Kitaab.org, OUTCAST, madrasmag.in, Vayavya, Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry II, and A Portrait in Blues (UK) . She was the India-winner of the R L Poetry Award 2016 that resulted in her debut poetry volume, Apostrophe (2018).

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