Bio Note: On the occasion of my forty-second wedding anniversary, I dedicated two poems to my spouse, included in my collection of poems titled 'In A Lighter Vein.' One of those poems appears below. 'Before Rain' is a Tandem poem, which is a genre I created to write a poem alongside my father's poem 'After Rain,' where the subject of both poems is rain, but the content and the language are mine. I have a couple of tandem poems I am currently working on. Meanwhile, I am happy to have poems and interviews published in various anthologies and journals, including the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English and Best Asian Poetry.
You can expect trouble when your wife is a poet Poetry will make her a procrastinator of household chores, laundry, dishes, vacuuming Meals might be delayed. She’ll do loads of laundry at a stretch, overload the machine till it sends undecipherable flashing messages, He wants the Under Armour track pant now, He wants to go swimming, I am writing poetry Our priorities are never the same. I tell him he doesn’t need A track pant to go swimming ‘So, should I drive to the pool in my swim trunks?’ I ignored his question, it was rhetorical anyway he wanted only that particular track pant. I make a cup of tea or two He needs another one, more than two I ask ‘How much tea do you drink?’ He asks, ‘have you forgotten I am from India?’ It’s the classic, familiar semi-serious banter Boiling hot is a must Thank goodness for microwaves. I ask him excitedly to read a poem I just wrote He works from home, as usual, in the middle of a conference call ‘Hurry up,’ I say, with urgency with those Indian gestures using both hands and head ‘Wait two minutes’ he says I’ve been waiting two minutes for forty years! He tells me he can’t think ‘now’ I tell him, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ He tells me his name is not Jack, So he’s quite sure I’m not talking about him. He asks me if Poetry is passed down through the genes Is it a scientifically proven fact? Or mere conjecture? We both laugh. I say we should write poetry together Then there will be no conflict of interest, He stops laughing I laugh alone.
Tandem Poem to Nissim Ezekiel’s poem ‘After Rain.’ Before rain The grey clouds swell to bursting The air stills in anticipation The pressure changes. Beginning with tiny droplets of rain kissing Sounding so musical and sweet. Finally it enters the earth, The thirsty road dashed and dotted With dampness. Before rain I rush to bring the cushions in the washing put out to dry The smell of fresh earth takes me back home Rain has a way of doing that. The eaves slowly rattle with a tinny sound The birds take shelter I spy the silhouette of feathers Heads tucked under bird bodies Using branches for umbrellas The dripping trees in the front lawn Squelch the grass. Before rain I write poetry After rain I write more poetry I curl up beside the cats. I put my hand out as in childhood I lick the wetness The raindrops taste so good. Yet always that eternal missing that refuses to leave the soul I miss the croaking of the frogs I sing the Rain Song in my native language It’s magical in the original It resists translation into English. I see the peacock dance, spreading its fan. I dream of corn grilling on a coal fire by the roadside vendor Hot pakoras with tamarind chutney in a roadside dhaba. No rainy day is complete without The tastes and smells of home. I belong to these rain roots.
©2022 Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca
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