POEMS

- by Usha Akella

THE TREES WORE BANGLES

Of the place all I remember;
the trees wearing bangles,
pink, green, blue. I never
paused long enough
to enquire why the trees
wore striped cloths
the color of teepees or,
why our paths crossed that evening.
And if we met once more,
your eyes like two moons, will they suspend me in light?
Do I really know you for centuries?
And our handshake—will it feel like
a finished jigsaw puzzle?
A world before the continental drift,
you of the West, me of the East, in reality one.

And when our hands disengage,
and you are already familiar in your frame,
Will you let me pass first through the doors,
to a room where people gravitate to each other,
clusters of constellations,
you the light illumining them all.
Will we move in that room
as the hands of a clock, apart but linked,
At my silent behest will we
face each other, two points in a circle
of the eternal man-woman orbit,
And when it is time to say goodbye,
And I not young enough to be maudlin,
Will I escape into the dark night
as comfortable as a coat


PETAL, ANT OR SNOWFLAKE

I hold my daughter
the way I did not know how to hold myself;
a petal, ant or snowflake.
I do not hold her the way India held me
with her calloused and chapped fingers,
I hold her with fingers of light.
As if the one chance for the earth
to redeem itself is here,
I hold her as a mother,
I let loose my revenge of Love upon the world.

INDIA GIVE ME A POEM

Speak like the monsoon,
tell me your secrets.

What is this garish smile
you're fooling the world with now?
You stick out your tongue as she* does.

What do you care for answers!

People in their row homes
walking on Italian marble,
the women's faces--
clothes lines stretched taut,
broken hopes flapping loose.

You- a heavy golden bangle on her wrist!

The loyal Gul Mohars are lit for you,
some secret understanding between you,

I guess.

 

SONG FOR GULSOMA

Little girl, you wore green at your wedding at four,
Your father dead, your mother gone, married off you were,
“Let me die. No more years,” you said, “no more, no more.”

Beatings, bread and beans, beatings, bread and beans,
scar tissue, keloids, cuts, and scars; in the land of dollars,
drive and money, little girl we’ve seen you on a screen.

No teddy bears, no Disney on ice, no skates, no burgers and fries,
No play dates, no icing on cake, no basket ball, no ice cream,
No mama’s hugs, no blanket or bed, shivering cold under dark skies.

The days you were beaten, starved and locked in a shed,
Little girl, little girl, your beautiful smile keeps me warm,
your spirit a mystery, you lived on when they wanted you dead.


Gulsoma, shine on little girl, old soul, shine on, shine on,
You’re a bird, you found your wings, you’re an orange flame,
Gulsoma you smell of rose, the sweet perfume of your smile.
In a land of rock you’re a river running, running, running on.

What is the color of paradise in your dreams?

Gulsoma, shine on little girl, old soul, shine on, shine on,
You’re a bird, you found your wings, you’re an orange flame,
Gulsoma, you smell of rose, the sweet perfume of your smile.
In a land of rock you’re a river running, running, running on.

What is the color of paradise in your dreams?

Usha Akella

Usha Akella, author of two books of poetry. Her first book of poems Kali Dances, So Do I published by Authors and Writers, India Ltd., was released in 2000 to positive reviews. Since then she has given scores of readings at reputed organizations both in the U.S.A and India, and at international poetry festivals. Her work has appeared and is upcoming in many US and Indian based journals such as Borderlands, Cumberland Review, The Crab Orchard Review, The Maryland Poetry Review, Pearl, Emily Dickinson Journal, Catamaran, Muse India, Ardent! Di-verse-city, Kavya Bharati etc. A Face that does not bear the footprints of the world was released at the International Rumi Conference, Calicut, India, in March 2008 to much acclaim from scholars and poets She won the wine poem award at Struga Poetry Evenings 2006, Macedonia, the first Indian and woman in 45 years to do so. She was the winner of Maryland Poetry Review’s Egan Memorial Contest, and a finalist twice for the Wisconsin University Press contest. Her poem ‘One hears’ was a pushcart nomination. Her book is suggested reading at Smith College, USA. She is the Founder, The Poetry Caravan:A visionary at heart, her most significant contribution to the Arts is the Poetry Caravan in Westchester County, New York.