Rebecca Vedavathy is a research scholar studying Francophone Literature in EFLU, Hyderabad. She began writing as a child but only discovered its appreciation when she read a Francophone Literature class many years later. She won the Prakriti Poetry Contest, 2016. She longlisted in English Poetry for the Toto Funds the Arts Awards, 2017 and 2018. She is currently a Shastri Indo-Canadian Research Fellow interning at the University of Quebec, Montreal.
Some days I stand in my choicest place:
with a leaf
and let the tree eat me.
Words hang like apples sewn to a tree –
the head of a poet – what was his name?
Didn’t the goddess tell you, it’s not safe to let
thoughts form words on your lips?
They aren’t red like hers – betel leaves don’t work.
Words draw shorelines on a passport –
the Syrian baby flattened on a sandy beach.
Didn’t the griot tell you, children here
don’t build sandcastles, anymore?
Lessons on geography and gore.
Words lay battered, dead against graffiti walls –
Dalit child and Muslim man.
Didn’t the bishop tell you, baby cows are
called Mein calves now?
No, cow urine isn’t red – enough said.
Words explode on the lazy newspaper –
shrapnel and body on boulevard – Paris.
Didn’t the ambassadors tell you, you’ll
pay for open borders?
They probably forgot – Gotham city in rot.
This poem has broken ribs and a lost ear.
Where shall I find it?
Beirut or Paris?
I don’t want to stand here anymore.
The autumn leaves are mulched with blood.
Veins slit, roots flung. Run.
Left I scream.
The nation hears, pretends these are bad
words hiding in a pencil box –
learnt to be forgotten.
This poem has breath. It shall remember.
It shall eat the mud, the blood
democracy feeds us
into red autumn’s green sister.
how to preserve childhood
red monkey insides
part-time job: museum
fulltime job: friend
friend because monkey was not alive. he was a he though. i didn’t name him. he was red. velvet. not like cupcakes. i am sure he didn’t taste like cupcakes. that’s because i tasted him. he tasted like fine red threads. touching tongue. tickling. he was as dirty as my feet. my feet went places those days. without chappals. climbed mountains of construction sand. dragged monkey’s curly tail. a cursive ‘g’ with me. fed him sand. ate some. licked deworming syrup from measuring cups. bit around his black button eyes. an attempt to make them look like mine. he still didn’t look like me. no one with three stitches for a nose looks like a little girl. that was the thing. he was a boy. i burrowed my fingers in his torn armpit. he didn’t mind. like i said he was my friend. i told him my secret. pineapples are just big apples, i declared. that’s why they have longer spellings. right? he heard me.
one day before convent school taught me “it is raining”. “rain was coming”. and when it came it came down with hail stones. no one was watching. i picked them up. one by one. silver sharp edges. taste of melting. white glass. tongue curled in cold. upside down camel hump. we didn’t have a fridge. i marched to monkey. stuffed his armpit. he had an armpit full of hail stones. i forgot about. later when i looked for the hail stones. monkey was a soggy mess: a museum.
a year later, we bought a fridge. it came with a fridge box. bubble wrap. a cover. that year i played a fridge for fancy dress. the box was my body. i had lines and all. i licked ice from the freezer. it tasted like fridge. i never saw hail stones again.
monkey appreciated that.