2 Poems | Sneha Sundaram

The Young Bride

She washed her hand,
Dry blood or Mehndi*
Crumbly cakes of dried lines
Raw flesh and splintered glass,
Or just designs the neighbors drew.

The women were laughing
At her, it seemed.
Or at themselves?
Scared, Naïve, Hopeful once
Like the young bride too.

The water bled green
Running like mud,
Or her earthy dreams
Of self, washing away
Leaving only morose maroon.

The singing rings clear now
Loud, unfettered, unkempt, unmetered
Not like the songs of youth or joy
But of burden and mourning
For her own self lost,
Between dowry and gold.


*Mehndi is design made with henna paste, traditionally on the bride’s hands during Indian wedding preparations.


Desert Song (Haibun)

I walked through the desert of my dreams today. At dusk, the fiery red sky enveloped me in its embrace. Dazzling golden light reflected off quarried rocks in sharp angles of precision, drawing latticed maps in the burning sand.

Is this what the early settlers saw, as they looked westward for gold? I too must mine for gold and riches, drawn as I am to these very rocks of my ancestors.

the peacock scratches
my chisel away

The cave painting is vaguely familiar. Reminding me of rice paste and folktales and home. Furtively I dig. Raising my arms, but not to protect.
Suddenly there are animals running on the rocks. A family, of horned goats, that leaps off the painting, looks at me and says: Traitor.

desert rain
the soil too gritty
to hold my tears

Sneha Sundaram is an entrepreneur, poet and author-in-waiting. Her poems have been published in Noctua Review, Kigo, Yellow Chair Review, Whirlwind, JACLR by UC Madrid, Spark, Sonic Boom etc. She has won prizes and received mention in the British Council & Sampad ‘Inspired By Museum’, Capoliveri International Haiku, the 20th Kusamakura International Haiku, Autumn Moon Haiku and other contests. Sneha is currently working on her poetry and a non-fiction book. 

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