Poetry at Sangam



BURNT POEMS by K. Satchidanandan

(Translated from the Malayalam by the poet.)

I am a half-burnt poem .
Yes, you guessed right,
a girl’s love poem.

Girls’ love poems have
Seldom escaped fire:
father’s fire, brother’s fire,
even mother’s, an heirloom.

Only some girls half-escape:
those half-charred ones
we call Sylvia Plath,
Anna Akhmatova
or Kamala Das.

Some girls, to escape fire,
hide their desire
under the veil of piety:
thus is born a Meera,
an Andal, a Mahadevi Akka.
Every nun is a burnt
love-poem, addressed to
the ever-young Jesus.

Rarely, very rarely,
one girl learns to
laugh at the world
with that tender affection
only women are capable of.
Then the world names her
Wislawa Szymborska.

Of course , Sappho:
she was saved only as
her love poems were
addressed to women.