Leela Soma came to Glasgow in 1969 with her husband. She worked, until her retirement, as a teacher of Modern Studies. During this time she took up creative writing under the tutelage of Laura Marney. She followed this with Creative Writing Classes in the Department of Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Glasgow.
Pollen drenched, the rain in the bark,
The roots deep in sepia earth, boughs
And branches thick with green leaves
The young shoots from the fallen seeds
In all the wilderness, the native tongue
The original syntax , within you, camouflaged
By a new language in the land of exile
Fleeing from war, landing on the unknown.
Memories of the language flowing in the soul
In the locked place of lullabies, the tunes fresh
Like dew drops on newly blossomed lotus
Delicate, fragile rekindled by the music of
The rustling leaves, the faint tune from mother’s
breath keeping heart and soul alive with longing
For those soft words, comfort of mother’s arms
To hear familiar sounds, cadences,nursery rhymes.
Cotton, soft to the skin, the perfect bedlinen
Or starched heavy, flattened with coal-heated iron
Bleached, dyed in different shades, batik designed
Years of slave history running through strung out veins.
Sugar, cane rich, green and tall under the tropical sun,
Nurtured, tended and cultivated to sweeten our tongues
Crushed and juice extracted, pure molasses, thick and brown
Like the bodies of those auctioned welts marked like lines of cane.
Jute, the humble vegetable fibre, soft and shiny grown in East Bengal
Made into coarse, hessian, gunny bags to hold rice and twisted into rope
A billion jute sandbags despatched from the British Empire in India
To the trenches in World War 1 for those who died in that futile war.
Bales of cotton streaked and branded with the blood of slaves
Bags of jute imprinted and inscribed with colonial stamps
Fields of cane sugar made into molasses and golden syrup
Just things which have made the world sweeter
at the cost of human lives.
Leaden and tenebrous skies lighten; palm fronds
sway silhouetted on the wall by a crescent moon.
I stand on the edge with a searing wordless wound.
The brutal pain, the sadness of being an object of desire
Cast aside like a faint memory, evanescent like a dream.
Fleeting passion, our long separation unbraids memory
our affair is only a chimera, ephemeral as a full moon.
Emotional geography collects like plaque.
You’re imprinted in my soul. The sung and the unsung
words an embroidery in my heart.
I sit in the darkness nursing
my void till the sun creases in the horizon, the saudade
going over and over the honeyed seep of memory
of what has been, of what could have been, of a love that
Left me at sea sifting for words in the white foam of a wave.