silk threads

“Silk-threads”, “Amma” and “My Brother’s Garden”

by Babitha Marina Justin

Silk-threads

Silk-threads

in my homeland little girls and

grandmothers are knotted with silk-threads

called stories

grandmothers walk nimble-footed

to the past, careful not to fall into

memory’s ditch

little girls traipse on it, tumbling

on fantasy and sport, daring

to dream

grandmothers teach them how to

unfurl their worlds and shed their shame

in private

that is what they teach with their

finger-wagging tales and anecdotes.

little girls outgrow

till some girls get lost

while they unbutton and unknot

their worlds

they get lost in cinema halls

with their mother and men with hairy arms

crawl all over them

they will long for the silk-threads

to flee from the dark and fall

into their grandmothers’ arms

some little girls will roam the valleys in search

of their ponies, they will see their own

hidden bodies

to remember the men who removed their purple

frocks, and the pain that screamed out

from their wombs

some little girls live in their fathers’ arms

that love their little bodies at night,

they shut their eyes

dream of

which

will take them home to the lies

their grandmothers once told

Amma

Did the doctor

with all his degrees

measure her heart beats?

Faint wings flapping

against the cage

showed up in monochromes;

unsteady and fragile,

she was wheeled to

be x-rayed and echoed.

Was it pain, fear,

hurt or love

that weakened her heart?

It still trembled like a

feeble prayer offered in

her lonely evenings;

It still beat

in the machines

to preserve her memories

against the violence of oblivion;

It pumped through

perforations and severed lint

in her attempt to stitch

herself together.

In the monitor,

her heart ceased to be

four walls of flesh.

Instead it was a

sea of struggle,

memories,

histories and love

imprisoned in her rib-cage,

waiting to soar towards

the sky....

My Brother’s Garden

My brother's garden

wakes up to birds,

they perch on treetops,

wait for his footsteps

A fig tree, with its cupped-palms,

holds drops of water for

finches and humming birds

The bottlebrush branches

hide nests under their arms;

they drop their rag doll fingers

to woo a magpie-robin

A drongo drones

to my brother's songs

before she drums down

to the marble-bath to drown

I know the trees by their names:

a Jamaican cherry with

its lopsided logic on gravity,

a guava tree fermenting with fruits,

whistling bamboo and wheezy thistle

A coconut leaf peeps down

from the sun-smudged sky,

a bird takes to wings,

a coiling curve

on my brother's brows

forming the forced smile

of my childhood skies

About the Author

Babitha Marina Justin

Babitha Marina Justin is from a small town in Kerala, South India and her poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, Fulcrum: An Annual of Art and Aesthetics (forthcoming), Adolphus Press, Rise Up Review, Constellations, Cathexis NW Press, Silver Needle Press, About Place Journal, Ogazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, Taj Mahal Review, Kritya and Journal of Post-Colonial Literature. Her first collection of poetry, Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills, was published by the Writers Workshop in 2015. She is also waiting to debut as a novelist with 'Maria's Swamp: The Bigness of Small Lies'.