‘Nishiddh’ (Forbidden)

Holi, The Festival of Colors, India

Image Credit: “Burst of Red” Poras Chaudhary.  Indian Holi Festival

March 12th
We talked. About Nothing. Everything.
Our fingers entwined beneath the silk cover,
she tells me about her childhood in Uttar Pradesh.
For the first time in my Life I am not afraid to speak.
So I tell her about the three babies
I was not strong enough to give birth to.
She pulls me closer and kisses my shoulder.
She tells me that I was never weak.

3 am. I kiss her sleeping form goodnight,
carefully etching her graceful beauty into my memory.
The gentle outline of her naked breasts beneath the sheet.
The delicateness of her features, laced into a sleepy smile.
Her luxurious dark hair cascading over silk pillows.
I slip away quietly, swallowed by the darkness of the Street.

March 19th
I slip into the shower and reluctantly wash her away.
Suddenly  I  am child again. Dhuleti  in Gujarat.
I cry in the shower because I want the colours
– the joy, the laughter, the memories- To stay.
Only now, she- her hands, her mouth, her breasts-
They are the red, yellow & orange hues
that I want to stain my skin.

I crawl into bed and savour the faint smell of Jasmine in my hair.
Twenty minutes later I feel him next to me.
The smell of English Whisky invading the fragrant air.
I recoil from his demanding hands that only seek
to conquer the exotic terrain of my body.
He pins me down, ignoring my protest.
His  guttural moans of victory echo his imperialist ancestors of 1860.
He smiles boastfully, proud of his conquest.
And like my sisters before me,
I ache in silence. I weep in shame.

May 21st
There was an accident last night.
All I remember is his blue eyes steeled with rage
and crimson blood staining the hardwood floor.
This morning he took me to Mumbai.
To a doctor with blue eyes and pink skin
Just like his.
He warns me not to mention “our little fight.”
& reminds me that disobedience is a sin.

In his crisp English the Doctor
tells me my Baby is gone. “God’s will.”
I wonder about this cruel God of theirs
who can continue to steal my babies from me.
When I have offered countless  prayers to
Lord Shiva and Parvati.
I cry silently because their God is stronger than mine.
I cry because I feel alone. Afraid and….empty.

June 10th
I have not seen her in 3 months.
Yet I can still feel the softness of her finger
skilfully tracing the outline of my lower lip.
So clearly that I shiver with a shadow of excitement.
Her touch. Her smell. They linger.
Like the Agarbathi that Dadaji would burn when I was a girl.
I am a child again.
Sitting in bed and wishing I could wrap myself in its aroma.
Except it is her distinct scent- Jasmine,
that intoxicates my soul, filling me with bitter-sweet pain.

August 17th
The noise of the market is punctured by a piercing scream.
I run to the scene,  nearly collapsing in the stifling heat.
A woman is being attacked in the street.
Her face is covered in blood so sickeningly red.
But I would recognize those eyes anywhere.
Those eyes whose tears have trickled down my breast.
Now they are glazed from intense pain,
yet she does not take them off me.
They silently plead with me to walk away.
I want to run to her,
cradle her head in my lap and wipe away the blood
that stains her porcelain features.
But her eyes…. they will me to flee.
To not look back.

September 8th
“Thugs charged in viscous murder.”
I can hear the news report over the sounds
of my morning sickness.
I fight back the bitter taste of bile in my throat,
collapsing into tears at the feet of a coward in a suit.
My husband tells me that I am an embarrassment
& orders me to clean up my mess.

November 13th
“You don’t understand how much I love you” he whispers.
He kisses me roughly,  his fingernails digging into my skin.
My face is stained with the familiar cocktail of blood, sweat & tears.
Frantic cries stifled under his overpowering weight.
Is this how we felt? Colonial 1928….

“Where would you be without me?” He taunts
“Starving? Praying to your God dolls?”
& I wonder… where would he be without a wealth,
built on graves… On 200 years
of my people’s blood…sweat…& tears.
“Always remember that I love you enough to kill for you.”
I close my eyes, longing only for the ones
who loved me enough….to die for me….


In June.


“So miss poet what will you write about me?”
He whispers this with a light in his eyes that rivals
the morning sun filtering through the blinds.
His fingers gently brushing my cheek.
& I deliberately avoid those adoring eyes-
unable to provide the answers they seek.

“I love to watch you write. You write with such urgency.”
I have no choice.
If a drowning man is offered a raft,
would he not cling desperately to it?
Poetry is… gasping for air that is not heavy
with the consuming agony that drowns my spirit.

“I want you to write about me that way.”
I close my eyes.
How do I make him understand…
I can only write poems about the people who break me.
About those who take…and take…
& leave my soul ravished &… empty.

“What will you tell the world about our love?”
How could I ever write about a “gentle caress”.
These adjectives are unknown to me.
How do I tell of a soft kiss,
When all I want to speak of is the whiskey
stained breath of the one I miss.

“You should start off with how me met. It’s truly romantic.”
How did we meet? I fail to recall.
Yet I can remember- sometimes too clearly-
the musky scent of sweat & …rage.
The broken look in his eyes in that fleeting moment
before we crumbled into irreparable damage.

“What will you name it? How about ‘A Love to Remember!”
I cannot bear to tell him that
His gentleness is more abrasive
than the fists of a drunken lover.
His perfectness is more suffocating than having
…my breath stolen at the unforgiving hands of another.

“How do you write like that?”
He could never truly understand
why Love & Hate; Passion & Pain
are interchangeably strewn across my verses.
& the reason that I look at lovers…
the way mourners look at hearses.

“How do you even think of these stories.”
I could never make him realize how
My mind inexplicably associates
unmade beds with grave yards.
That to me poems are..silent screams
of those who have been unspeakably scarred.

“You must love with such passion.”
He kisses my fingers delicately
& I’m terrified by the unfamiliarity of tenderness.
I say “I love hungrily.”
I don’t add that I’m only satisfied
by the fruit of a poisoned tree.

(August 2015.)

A New York Art Exhibition


“Stunning! Brilliant rendition of light.”
How could they not be aware,
that it is nothing but a tribute
to the the sun shining through our bedroom window,
kissing the golden flecks in my hair.

“Masterful technique.”
Each composition evokes a memory.
Sunday afternoons lying naked on your studio floor.
Loving with unquenchable thirst.
Your fingers embellishing the forbidden canvas of my body.

“Exquisite! Such an eye for detail!”
Every brush stroke is a familiar caress-
the delicate sweep of your fingers along my throat.
The wet softness of your tongue at the nape of my neck.
The brush of your lips at the swell of my breast.

“A vibrant contrast of colours!”
Your thumb tracing my spine- violet:
for the passion only I could awake.
Crimson along the curve of my growing stomach.
Pink just for her- beloved Juliette.

“Excellent symmetry.”
You loved her perfectly. Like she was your own.
Revered her growing life like a treasure
you had spent your whole life searching for.
…Not the fruit of the betrayal I had sewn.

“Such fine texturing!”
The gentleness of your palms over the bulge
of my taut stomach. Icy Fear.
The warmth of your voice. Strength of your arms.
Panic. Pain I could not bear to divulge.

“Such incredible ability to create depth.”
My own body executing punishment-
The price of a sin of the skin
is destruction of the yield of said flesh
& a period of interminable bereavement.

“Dramatic rendition of shadows.”
They remind me of the sudden emptiness
of my poisoned womb.
Of the unbearable absence of the flutter of tiny feet.
Of Silence. Eternal Darkness.

“A meticulously stylized, thought provoking piece.”
Blotted, tear stained ink. Nervous scribbling:
“How strong is your love?
Strong enough to forgive-

Among the critics and fans, I am here.
The one person you never needed to impress.
I take in each piece and relive the stories
of Love. Pain. Life. Death….Death…
& how it all started with you, in that same Red dress.

Whispers of my soul have been intricately weaved,
within the threads of each tapestry.
Will they ever know, my darling,
That each piece is the language of our love,
a declaration that your heart continues to yearn for me.

August 10th, 2015

The Little Things


He fell in love with the little things,
Like the way I lived Life out of timing.
He’d smile approvingly,
Every time I wore Madras earrings in June,
Or spent mornings chasing the Moon.
His eyes sparkled watching me
hang Christmas lights in May.
Or read bedtime stories in the middle of the day.

He adored the way I had no sense of place.
We’d spend hours lying among seashells on the kitchen floor,
Palm fronds delicately tickling our backs.
He’d hold me close & inhale the scent of coconuts in my hair,
whispering a love as vast & deep as the Ocean in my ear.
He said he loved coming home to me.
Because Wednesday could become dinner in Venice,
& Thursday we might make love in Greece.

There were nights when I cried for no reason,
& he’d quietly hold my hand in the dark for hours.
Because he knew I feared mornings,
he stayed up & laid dark plastic over every window pane.
He complied when I wanted to sleep on the roof in the rain.
His lips would trace the raindrops on my stomach
& whisper, “compose a song from the pain in your soul,
Because your voice makes me forget the cold.”

He loved me even when he had to drag me out of bed.
Even when I made him late for work everyday,
Because I’d cry hysterically & beg him not to leave me.
He’d hold me close when we walked down the street,
& I wore my little black dress & bedroom slippers on my feet.
He said he enjoyed the adventure I brought.
When I’d run away at 3 am. with nowhere to go,
& he’d drive for hours… in search of my shadow.

He used to smile & kiss my cheek when
I couldn’t remember the little things. He’d say,
“We’ll spend the rest of our lives rewriting
the blank spaces in your memory.”
I’d choke back tears & ask timidly,
But what happens when I can’t remember to love you?
“Then we’ll love as hard as we can until….
& even then I’ll love you still.”

& He loved me until..
Until the day he came home & ripped out the Christmas lights
& hung clocks on every wall.
Calendars quickly replaced palm trees,
while my nights became locked doors & hidden keys.
For the first time I cried alone.
For the first time he left for work on time,
Then came home & tore down every fantasy of mine.

The little things make him angry.
So he spends his days mad at me for
reasons I’m too afraid to remember.
I spend mine frantically screaming & clawing at the latch,
Because he refuses to take me for walks if my clothes don’t match.
Out of sheer cruelty he rips open the drapes
& watches me cringe at the sun, begging for darkened nights.
When the sun finally sets, he smiles & turns on the lights.

The lips that once painted my skin are stained with hate.
The hands that used to inspire rhythm in my body
squeeze the poetry out of my throat.
& when I sing along to the melodies in my head,
His fists pound their own solo until the choir of angels are dead.
There was a time when we were my refuge.
Now we are the prison where a nightmare resides.
Our love is a fountain where my poison hides.

July 5th, 2015.

If We Were Having Coffee


If we were having coffee,
I’d ask only that you smile earnestly.
So that I may commit it to memory.
I’d memorize its shadow,
So that I could conjure it when
a pale moon kisses the sea.

If we were having coffee,
I’d try to not let you see,
that your smile breaks me.
I’d stare at the curve of your lips,
remembering how they painted
every contour of the design that is me.

If we were having coffee,
My cup would remain empty.
Six years and you still don’t know that I drink tea.
& that I hate flowers.
Especially those that smell like
the lies born of infidelity.

If we were having coffee,
I’d caress the line of your jaw hungrily.
Kiss your fingertips slowly.
Because soon the only comfort I will find,
will be in their ghostly imprints lingering
along my body.

If we were having coffee,
I would sip the sound of your voice ardently,
Inhale your musky scent greedily.
Somewhere in the future I will use these
to recreate a past filled with long summer nights
where you whispered your devotion breathlessly.

If we were having coffee,
I’d feel afraid- misplaced- Lonely.
Because I’ve lost you already.
I lost you a long time ago.
When you stopped holding my hand in the rain
& began to love me distantly.

If we were having coffee,
I’d search your eyes desperately,
For the man who fell in love with me,
& pray for the strength to ask him
to love me again…just enough
to set me free.

April 7th, 2015

Orchid Of My Womb

I have loved you… in a way that defies time…
For I have loved you since you were just a flowering thought….
A miracle that blossomed inside my imagination… and took root in my heart.
Before the world met you…you were the greatest love of mine.

And there…in my heart’s haven you were safe…
You grew before my mind’s eye.. a delicate Rose,
A glimpse of perfection… seen only with eyes closed.
A bouquet of promise… unadulterated hope.

Nurtured within the garden of my womb,
you sprang to life, kissed by the sun’s glow.
More beautiful than any portrait my mind could paint.
Like spring’s first bloom after winter’s desolate snow.

My Flower…you are a miracle of Me…and a phenomenon of the Earth.
A vine with roots in the ultimate depths of my existence,
burgeoning out into the Universe.
Thus, you cannot flourish in isolation of the elements.
As your bud ripens…as your leaves sprout…

Do not allow yourself to become suffocated by weeds,
Instead, grow towards the glorious rays of sunshine,
Find root only in soil that will sustain you …
and beware of pretty flowers that bare poisonous seeds.
Caution… against  winds that may seek to break your stem,
But fear not- you are strong enough to weather them.
Pay heed… to feet that will strive to trample you.
Rise. Triumph. Bloom against the odds.

My greatest fear is that your heart will be crushed,
at the hands of one who admires your beauty,
yet plucks away each refined petal until you are left bare.
Be mindful of them…those with a desire stained stare.

Yet, I advise that you not shy away from the hurricane,
for it brings the glorious gift of rain.
Let the waters of the storm replenish you,
let them be your nourishment. You, my love, are resilient.

Still… if ever you are in need, please remember,
I will be your oak.
Because you, sweet one, are my graceful Lily in a field of thorns.
my exquisite Orchid in a bleak December.

Amanie Mathurin
January 10th, 2014.

A Love Story


An encounter.. sketched by chance,
a crowded room, one long glance.
Infatuated- a sedated trance.
We knew then that
we would fall in Love.

Stolen kisses, savoured embraces,
just us in a crowd of invisible faces.
War? Politics? Distant places!
You see… nothing really matters,
to prisoners of Love!

Long days, longer nights.
Silly arguments, pointless fights!
Make Love to me…no lights…
two bodies entwined in perfect geometry,
consumed by the flames of… Love.

A steady hand to hold,
every single secret told…
Fears…dreams… our essence unfold.
You become me… I am you,
as we immerse ourselves in Love…

Minutes, hours…fade into days,
life forces us seperate ways-
similar roles…completely different plays!
Once or twice we may remember
that we were once in Love.

Time, distance play their parts.
Wave goodbye….Love departs!
No tears? Promise! No broken hearts!
Just a sweet distant memory that
we used to be in love.

Curled up in other people’s sheets,
preocupied with individual triumphs…defeats.
Maybe one day we’ll pass each other in the streets
….smile and remember
how beautifully we loved

Amanie Mathurin
December 2012.

Poet’s Curse

Seems everyone’s looking for something different in these pieces,
making it their duty to disect…interpret each thesis.
They forget, I’m not here to entertain,
the artist’s worst flaw is his thirst for fame.

I don’t hope to be the next Shakespeare or Walcott,
I’m simply here to remind you of struggles we forgot,
of bruised hands…calloused feet…
single mothers who will accept hunger… but no..never defeat.

So when I speak of desolation… tainted little boys,
& grown men who play with broken toys,
a little girl convinced the ‘future’ is something mythical,
they miss the point.. too busy being overly critical!

campaigning marionettes strung by legislative hands,
all talk I wont expect them to understand!
see… I only revert to metaphors & similes,
to expose anomalies… euphemize realities

If you’re too focused on my dependency on rhymes,
you may miss my underlying objection of the climate of these times.
Times where we’re governed by overheated television screens,
ministered to by cold-hearted thugs in sagging jeans.

Who are you to judge what I carve with my pen?
All I do is relate the plight of boys not quite ten but already men.
9 yr old girls taught anatomy by neighbourhood prostitutes
instructed in commerce & trade by grandpas in designer suits

Even if you don’t appreciate these stanzas,
I hope you capture the essence of truth in my mantras.
Truth that… the time has come to fight…
remove the blindfolds of church, media, politics.. and gain sight

I can’t help the literary ammunition veiled in each verse.
I’m obligated to rebel… to object. Call it… the poet’s curse.
While they dig tombs of propaganda into which we inevitably sink,
I’ll continue to paint a revolution in black ink.

Doesn’t matter if I use the wrong adjective,
cuz Art is… informative…. subjective…
And if you still don’t see that.. well you missed the whole objective.

Amanie Mathurin