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- by Kutti Revathi


Translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman

The tree’s shadow
Sat still beneath its canopy
Like a Greybird

As if she wished to snatch and carry away even
The protracted silence of the street, 
A girl came down sweeping 

It was here that 
He’d asked me to wait,
Had asked my love too

The sweeper-girl
Went away long ago, taking
The silence with her, while she kept
Turning back to stare at me

Darkness has now begun to stream down 
Like tears. Enchanted and fearful,
Like a body ready at last to arrive
At its own flowering, I wait

Here… he walks in from afar,
Like a laden cloud about to unburden
Itself of rain
At this unbearable joy,
Red stars have begun to spring in my body

The tree, though,
Is still; not perturbed in the least—
Like a Greybird

Kutti Revathi is the pen name of Dr S. Revathi. A Chennai-based Tamil poet, her poetry seeks to evolve a subversive language to explore and reclaim a long-colonized realm of experience – “the map of a Tamil woman’s body.” Kutti Revathi has published three books of poetry and is the editor of Panikkudam, a literary quarterly for women’s writing and also the first Tamil feminist magazine. She holds a Bachelors degree in Siddha medicine and surgery, and is currently pursuing her doctoral research in medical anthropology at the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Chennai. Revathi received the Sigaram 15: Faces of Future award for literature from India Today (a Tamil weekly) and was awarded a travel grant in 2005 by the Sahitya Akademi to meet leading litterateurs from various parts of the country.
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