Poems by Ranu Uniyal

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GRANDFATHER

You remember more of what is no more.
Past steps into your bedroom and your grandson
becomes your newly born. You love to address
him as Baba – this is how you called your first born.
The present blurred and faceless has no challenges
for you. Your face perks up and breaks into an
alabaster smile. Fingers, gentle and shy as you
stroke her shawl a gift you held fifty-five Decembers
ago. A voice walks in – It’s time for lunch.
You stare and blow a whistle of indifference
and then stray off with a stick in hand.
Outside. At Tikona park – a bench waits for you.

FOR AN ARTIST

Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart – William Butler Yeats

Nudity is nothing more than a cup of tea.
It shakes your tendrils, and then goes back

to where it is best preserved, in between
sheets. The tale must end somewhere.

After all you have been out of love for
almost a year. All plastic bags have been

stashed under your bed and letters crushed
as if this was necessary to erase the sharp

smell and love of customs. Your life has
changed, but you refuse to acknowledge

that absence has done no good to your
amygdala, alone you smile and hug your

feet as if trapped in a hieroglyph and none
can read you. Today you are more superstitious,

then you were full of wonder, and less effete.
The other day I saw you walking a bird.

Were those steps in line with drizzling grief?
I agree this world has left no room for madness,

but even so it is bereft of wisdom, one that only
an artist can savour. Have you ever thought of

setting on canvas moments of fullness, before
you go? A talisman of friendship frantically

waving at the sky you shared and dropped it
before the dawn. Have you ever thought of

leaving behind a book, a diary, a billet doux or
even a brief memoir celebrating love?

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Ranu Uniyal is Professor of English at Lucknow University. Her poetry has appeared in Cha An Asian Literary Journal, Asia Literary Review (HongKong), Mascara Literary Review (Australia), Jaggery, Medulla Review, Sketch Book, among other places She has published three poetry collections: Across the Divide (2006), December Poems (2012) and the most recent The Day We Went Strawberry Picking in Scarborough (2018).

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