Two Poems: Our Lady of Arrival

By Maithreyi Karnoor

Our Lady of Arrival

A woman has two hatchbacks and three pigs
She washes and speaks to all five everyday
A man sells underwear and packets of garlic
On a mat before the four-hundred year-old church
Whose deity reins over snows
And worshippers drenched in sweat.
A bus advertising condoms on its side
And pregnancy kits on the back
Has a shrine to Vailankanni on the dashboard
A man on his way to pick up his sausage-selling wife
From the market, stops to buy her sugarcane juice
Crushed and sold on a pushcart
Breadfruit grows picture-perfectly
In the garden of the uninhabited house
As a cat snoozes on its porch on one of the two
Mutually facing mortar seats
Women wear body hugging satin dresses
In bright colours that fail
To outdo the varicose veins on their legs
Every knee deep grass patch
Has a grazing bull – the egret on its back
Neither feared, revered nor relished
Prawn patties cost ten rupees each
Coconut trees renamed grass stand still
There is a power cut
Coal looms in the black ahead

Verdant Ma

Verdant is my envy
Of she who is yours;
Take me too – slowly 
Into your lush slowness;
Let me wear your trust
With unconscious ease
Like the ill-fitting dress
Over unwaxed calves
Of the middle-aged fishwife;
Lull me in a sultry embrace
In long afternoon naps
Inside thick mud walls, under
Mossy red clay tiles;
Moja moga, my mother I bore when
Past my prime, remain
As you are while I dwell inside –
And upon my love for – you.

Maithreyi Karnoor is a translator and poet. Most recently, she has translated from Kannada, a Sahitya Akademi award-winning novel A Handful of Sesame (2018) into the English. She has written reviews and translations for The Hindu, Indian Express, Scroll and The Wire among others, and has been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017. She lived in Goa for about two years before returning to her native state, Karnataka.