Poetry at Sangam



CHHAYA by Sharanya Manivannan

All night I translated for you from the book of shadow-dancing. “They call this the theatre of skin”, I whispered, hand within hand in the darkness of the amphitheatre. All night, I traced your salt to the stardust of its origins. “Our word for shadow is their word for light”. I was a mercenary then, seduced by the costume of the trickster, a fabulist who would betray the empire to tell the truth. There were whole countries behind me, a trail of tears and relinquished ornaments, and art was the red yarn that led me back into and out of the world. You were a georama of constellations, and I didn’t know yet how I would have to watch your every fall. That night I could believe it – that all the anguish that had transpired had happened only to my shadow. While my true nature – never surrendered – had never been interrupted of its fierce smoulder, was always and ever would be an absolute and sempiternal light.


(forthcoming in The Altar Of The Only World, HarperCollins India 2017)