The Poetry Corner – 7 April 2021

[To read an introduction to this column, please see the first paragraph of the initial post here]


This week I am featuring the poet Swidala Swami from India. She is a varied writer, also working in fiction and children’s literature. Her work ranges in themes, but seems to have particular focus on love and loss. The two poems I selected to show today use these themes well, and perhaps in unexpected ways. 













He writes me letters at the back of the bus. A sacred text on a grain of rice. Things he
does not say to me over the phone. Old-fashioned, I call him and laugh at the things he says.
When he speaks he stammers. Ink stains the page. What I have is a sword he has given me willingly.


Just for once I want all the power. To keep you waiting on my words
measure my satisfaction in your loss. Just for once.

I am sitting at the window reading
my eyes slide down the page and everything changes. You reach your hand
past my breast and grab my heart.
Squeeze. It smells of rust & weeds at low tide
your hand a slo-mo pulse.              I discover there are no such things
as heart strings.

When you tell me you dream of falling
I find ways to remove everything that could break your fall.
It’s not your    fall
I want to break. Just for once
I want to talk to you and give nothing away.


He dreams my hands
are cut off at the wrist
and wakes up crying.

I flex my fingers
make a fist
take his hands and hold them
as a lover might.

His wrists have lines that might be scars.
I place my hand against his, palm to palm
as children and dancers do.

The measure of love is not loss but residue. Vasana.
Leave if you must but leave me a groove
in the mind
down which memory can run
like a cultivated habit.








From you I learnt
to winnow words
give them room to breathe
silence in which to grow

A single flower
at a difficult summer’s end
will bloom fiercely
and for a long time.

Eli Neumann

Eli is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan majoring in English literature and minoring in Chinese Language and Culture. His column The Poetry Corner showcases poetry from around the world to let people see the beautiful and important work poets are doing in our time.

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