Art By the Way

Pramila Venkateswaran

Imagine if the dye had to be made,
leaves and flowers plucked, mixed
with water and stirred over a hot stove

cooled under the moon, the right branch
found and sharpened to dip into the potion,
a piece of parchment, dry enough

but not too dry, has to be smoothed
before the pen can be lifted
from the decoction, wet enough

but not drippy, so the words form in neat,
thick chunks as the hours pass slowly,
so at day’s end if four lines are written

it’s a feat, especially if dishes have to be washed,
laundry hung out to dry, kids fed, and
a hundred pieces of family life picked up:

it must have been the woman with magic
who put a god on watch to brush a few strokes
on leaves, the pen’s spout, her life, so imagine

the women who couldn’t manage it all,
let the dye coagulate, the pen stick to the bowl,
the parchment vanish into yellow dust.

(Published in Singer of Alleppey, Shanti Arts, 2018)