Poetry at Sangam



CAST AWAY BLOOD by Malathi Maithri

(Translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holmström)

The full moon, on a rainy night,
clings precariously to the flagpole.
The parrot pecks at the light
shed by the moon’s nose-ring, evades
Minakshi’s outstretched hands
and flies away.

Minakshi follows, chasing.
The chill moon drips mistily
upon the stone pavements.
Her feet shudder, her body thrills.
She wipes with her underskirt
the warm blood seeping
against her thighs
and runs.

Through the corridor encircling
the inner shrine, along
the thousand-pillared mandapam
the pet parrot flies,
to the temple’s Golden Lotus Tank,
and settles on the moon
afloat there.

She slips off her underskirt
and rinses it in the tank’s water;
then – an old memory reviving –
spreads out her sari pallu
to catch the fish which gather
around her feet and nibble at her hands,
smelling blood.

Surprised to see
the moon in the tank reddening
slowly, slowly,
the parrot calls out its summons:
Minakshi, Minakshi.