We are all deeply flawed, December reminds
With dark foggy dawns.
Pale unsure sun at seven, cold nipping our bones
Knife sharp rib jolting memoirs of past light.
When I failed to love you. Home
Was not warm enough, despite strong
Indian curries cooked at smoking point.
Flavours added to spice up our stews and
Palates. December brings home expiry dates.
Exits and ends.
When you walked out with a storm on your face.
When I searched my soul, tears snowing down the planes
Of mine. The month of advent and nativity jars
With the discord of solstice.
The long night ends.
Afterwards we move closer to sun kissed warmth
Forgetting old hurts and haemorrhages.
The Bengal Tiger
We say in Bengal, where I hail from
January is winter’s last wild roar of
The white Tiger. Too many aged, sick and frail,
Homeless people succumb in its trail.
It’s a time to give away old woollens, blankets
Anything to stave an unnatural cold
That clamps the heart, hewing bone icicles.
You can sit in your room, doors and windows closed,
And hear your teeth chatter.
The tiger prowls like virulent anarchy, anomalous
Deep freezer of blood and bluster.
I have heard it roars loudest, as it leaves and
The burial in its wake makes the living shake.
We must not be afraid however, see our sages
Dip in the holiest river at bone crushingly cold
Dawns of Kumbh mela. Faith, courage, compassion
Must conquer all.
Winter is the time of kitchen camaraderie
As mothers and aunts, with daughters, start
Rolling out dough, grating coconut, boiling and
Caramelizing sugary sweet treats.
It is that time of the year when a sugar kick
Is justified, making you feel warm and lively.
Batches of Pithas, and Patishaptas,
(Indian crepe suzettes) stuffed with honey,
Clotted cream, condensed milk or molasses,
Are fried, in purest clarified butter, then doled out
To children, cousins, visitors, carried in ornamental
Trays to neighbours, packed in steel tiffin carriers by
Husbands, boasting of wifely prowess in stuffy
Offices, wrapped in banana leaf and plastic by
Hard worked maids for their hungry children.
The seasonal giving in India is warm and rural,
The domain of grandmothers and great aunts.
Legacies of love, a way of life, passed on by mothers
And aunts that dies if daughters and sons won’t learn.
Poush is our winter month, Sankranti marks the sun’s
Movement into light, beginning another cycle
Of fresh life and harvest.