INCIDENT IN AISLE 5
I was almost as tall as the shopping trolley,
I could see up and through its bars
to catch the slap of Mama’s hate
across Baba’s cheek.
What’s he done this time?
A question on loop.
Her purse was agape,
not one coin.
The trolley was a foolish promise
of fruit cups, Weetbix, raisin toast…
His cheeks were a permanent red,
genetic markers of so…so…
sorry, shoulders tilted to grovel,
if something came good.
She swiped my hand off the trolley,
zipped her bag shut and marched
down the aisle
without one look back.
He continued to search the floor
I knew she would leave
expecting me to follow,
I ran after her –
I did turn once
and saw a man
on his knees
between the Corn Flakes and the Milo
transfixed to that trodden floor.
WHEN THE HILL’S HOIST BECAME THE WISHING TREE
With a peg in her mouth,
Maroulla walks the circumference of the ‘clothes tree’
looks at each pillow case, sheet, table cloth, Taki’s singlet,
reminders of the white handkerchiefs
tied to the wishing-tree at Vasa.
When she was eight, she tried to reach the branch
with her hanky,
there was no-one there to hold her up,
she didn’t whisper her secret dream to the tree that day
and the next morning she left
stuffing her flag of surrender
into her suitcase.
Taki’s out for the day,
with her waving, white promises
she touches them one by one,
the pillow case, sheet, table cloth – his singlet.
She reaches and holds onto the bar
swings herself into the wind
at peace with spent wishes and dreams.
She is a flying stream of coral, rose and black
she is laughter spilling itself into the sun
she is the fragile wires of affection
she has come to know
THE COLOUR CHASE
Krishna took off his robe and wished
it was his skin he could remove
it was a dark blue
he would never have chosen,
if only he could be fair like Radha
I heard the banging of drums
before I saw the Nepalese woman
swollen with child
running towards me
splattered like a Jackson Pollock
ecstasy encased her face
intent on throwing abeer
I instigated a chase down the hill
thinking I would win
given I had gravity on my side
Krishna could choose
whatever colour he wanted
to change Radha
he thought of red then green
but settled on blue
so she could know his pain
With legend and ritual on her side
she caught up when I tripped
and flung the red powder
like a blanket on fire
it covered my face and arms,
I was no longer me
but a symbol of love
and like her,
a vessel for birth
Radha looked in the mirror
and saw her skin was equal to Krishna’s
what an honour, she thought,
my skin shows
the temper of sky and sea,
the eternal unrest of power.