Tastes, dust and smoke

by Vidya Panicker
1.

That year,
Onam came in the month of August

The mangoes in the ceramic pot were still raw

but there were the banana chips,
perfect rounds, quadrants
& semi circles dipped in jaggery

our mouths peeled
after hours of chewing,
salty dust on my skirt which held our shared booty,

the makeshift swings
on which I swayed under your gentle prods,
my shrieks filling the house

& the out of tune version of our national anthem
after we exhausted all the other songs in our music box

After the feast of 18 dishes,
we stole a kiss, clumsily

2.

The next Onam together, we slurped from our banana leaves,
the same dessert of crushed banana in coconut milk
we had on the day of our first kiss

The third roll of film on the vintage kodak
snapped from different angles, our flower carpet
that lacked symmetry and geometry,
yet looking incomparably beautiful

Standing by it before you set out,
we kissed furiously
& you promised, to write

3.

In the calendars of army barracks, do they
mark the holidays in red?

Are there mountain trees that adorn
the area around your deep trenches with red, dry flowers?

What is the pattern of the flames
when a landmine goes up and engulfs a man?

Like a poothiri, or a mathaappu
or the magnificent fireworks during our temple festival?

Remember, we do not light crackers on Onam ,
we have Aprils & Octobers
& even Decembers for that

Death is privileged to celebrate everything
the way it chooses

4.

The mangoes in the fat ceramic pots
are rotting, fat worms parading in & out
and there is a slush of jackfruits in the backyard
that no one bothered to pick

& this Onam , I am still waiting
for that letter
Based in the God's own country of Kerala, India, Vidya’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The feminist Review, So to speak, Switched-on Gutenberg, Shot glass journal, The new verse news, Silver Birch Press, Three line poetry, Aberration Labyrinth, Bangalore Review, 4and20 poetry and several others.

© 2015, Vidya Panicker