Green Grass and Petticoats

Dark blood/spilt out of his skull:/a chamber’s secrets. Poems by Geralyn Pinto.

Green Grass and Petticoats

They gathered beyond the hedge




swishing the rich, raw of  Indian grass,

pleated crinoline petticoats like

umbrellas at Ascot we’d heard

of; knew nothing much about




They drew in the pastels,

their skins so pale and peach in

the half-light of a soiree,

leaving us clothed in the red and violet

bleeds of the spectrum




Low murmur on the Residency lawns

clink of cups steaming fine Darjeeling

butterflies dizzying among topiaried rose bushes

saabs summoning the call of the wild on their last shikaar,

under a pelt of early moon




Behind us the bright of brass bells

the throaty of conch shells and smother of incense;

ahead, the pact of Rulers and ruled.

And we were caught between

new feudal Liege Lords

and intimate tribal loyalties

_______

Speaking Up




We were

a Medieval rumour

tall-taled by travellers,

a blur in the East, indigo -dyed,

the sun glancing off

our temple architraves ,

behind our veils,

a gilded people

imagined, but never seen




Till

energetic Tudor enterprise

unravelled coastlines,

mapped and chartered us,

Royal sealed us,

and You and I were conjugated:

Your Age of Re-awakening

with Ours of Rich assimilation,

two histories rooted in Tudor and Moghul,

yoked by cables of cotton and silk,

locked together in a language

of more than commodity exchange




Together

we turned a comma, a syllable,

a phrase in the Age of Elizabeth

into a narrative of two continents:

knotted with wars and mutinies

seamed with rivalry; in time patterned

with strange affections




Now

we stand face to face, neither of us

bound to the other nor burdened,

stamping out the pronouns of separation,

proving, despite Kipling,

that on this earth the twain have met

not as Occident and Orient,

as ‘Us’ and “Them’,

but as Men among Men

ready to continue the dialogue

we began long ago,

to fulfil the kismet we share....

________

Camp Art

Soiled snow banks

grey breath feathering

into frost

And we arrived, a yellow-starred trainload of us. Our trunks were full of crazy china, ceramic tiles, paint cans, bottles of glue, brushes and thinner. Our instructions: to mosaic new memories onto the walls. The chambers, so recently plumped with music and life, were stripped into silence; sunk inwards like old faces with upside-down smiles; as emptied of dreams as a defeated Dictator’s imaginaire.

Floor tiles

round-petalled

into yellow flowers

that we trod on with care so that they wouldn’t be bruised. Someone patterned in a blue sky with cockscrew curls of white clouds. I looked at it and sniffed and thought I smelt bitter almonds on a drift of air. Make happy things for the Inspection Team, we were told. The world wants them pretty and so do we. Give them WHAT WE WANT, they said – seal in the corpses, turn history inside out with its stains concealed and its silver lining on display.

Crazy china houses

pink and chocolate

for Hansel and Gretel

He was high up on the scaffolding, balanced as delicately as a spider on a swinging trapeze. He made acrylic daisies out of a can of paint. Then the rope snapped and he dropped – a sad star from the sky. The Kapo flipped him over with a jackbooted foot then looked up at the red slither of fingerprints where he had clawed at the wall on his way down.

Dark blood

spilt out of his skull:

a chamber’s secrets


[Geralyn Pinto is an Associate Professor and Head of the Post-Graduate Department of English at St Agnes College (Autonomous), Mangalore. Her poetry, short stories and non-fiction have been published and won prizes, nationally and internationally. Her poems have been featured in journals published by the University of Leeds, Mahidol University, Thailand, andthe University of London, among several others.]

 

 

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