Poems by Anitha Thampi

Dirt

Well scrubbed floor
Walls, stain-free
Roof so smooth that even spiders
Dread to weave their web
Bathroom with a floor
That doesn’t get wet.

Beds and dresses
That waft the scent
Of foreign lands
Kitchen, a surgery chamber.
Silence
In rooms where everything is
As it is meant to be

If lingered for a moment more
Dirt will gather.
Tomorrow
Those who come to whitewash will comment:
“Oh ! Stains left by some pest long dead.”

Sweep it off,
It will rain tomorrow.

Lying deep
In the crevices of earth
Where roots sprout
For the wild growth in the backyard,
Where the every dirt turns beauteous,
Lying deep there

Let
An entire lifespan of cleanness
Be forgotten,

Forgiven.

[Translated by A.J.Thomas & C.S.Venkiteswaran]

Non-flying

On the bough
The bird came to rest

Green leaves caressed by the breeze
Moving
Flowers
Bursting out of leaves
Suddenly
Amidst the flowers
The bird lolled, flower-like.

Children, flower-pickers
Tilt the bough down
Shade-seekers
Put out fingers
Nip the leaves
The bird gathered its wings,
Stayed still.

Evening,
Sunlight gathered all day
Lay cooled on the leaves
Tabby Karambi and her brood
Are out on the hunt
The bird drew back,
unafraid.

And as the hour went by
In the sky
Rose the crescent
Like an eyelash restful
Along came a star
Adding twinkle- bright.

As if to drink in the sight
A whole long life,
The bird ventured
To the very tip.

Upon a humble bough!

[Translated By J.Devika]

While Sweeping the Front yard

My back aches as at dawn
with a broom I turn into past
the pockmarked frontyard
of the sleeping house.

May be the rain left this frontyard
Drenched last night, and the earth-worms
lost their sleep in ploughing the earth
and building in the dark  their tiny homes-.

only to be razed and scatter
as a row of nail marks left
by the palm-frond fingers of the broom
once the dance of a woman’s bent back is done.

Sweeping over, when sunlight spreads
and the house opens its eyes to the dawn,
how neat lies the frontyard,
no footmarks, not even a dry leaf!

When the newspaper drops
through the filters of the night,
this one who has stretched herself after sweeping
just longs to drink some coffee to the lees.

[Translated by K. Satchidanandan]


Anitha Thampi was born in 1968 and is based at Thiruvananthapuram. She has been publishing poetry in Malayalam since 1987. Her work has been translated into English, French, German, Swedish and Indian languages: Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati.