Poems by Amrita Valan

 

December Days

 

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.

 

 

Poush Sankranti

 

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.

 

 

 

Amrita Valan is a writer based in Bangalore, India and has a master’s degree in English literature. Her poems and short stories have been published in online journals such as Café Lit, Café Dissensus, ImpSpired, Spillwords, The Crossroads, Oddball Magazine, Shot Glass Journal, Poetry and Places, Wink, Modern Literature, Portland Metrozine, The Indian Periodical, The Writers Club and Potato Soup Journal and Short Story Town. Her debut collection of fifty poems Arrivederci was published in May 2021 and her collection of 17 short stories In Between Pauses was just published in November 2021.  

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