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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