On letting my kid go to the volcano from which she brought back fresh lava

It hurts you when you hold it. Resentful
Of your thin skin your nerves that scream
Your wondering fingertips wincing
Along crevices. Not ready to take its place
As a hard sharp thing. Birth is difficult, the clean
Hot liquid womb a descent full of forcing
Out. And however cautiously you brace
Yourself, children are so hard to set
Free. Distrustful of your squeamish care.
So beautiful it hurts when your forge it.
In this almost-Spring, a hammering out
In the smithy of creating, a laying bare.


The Curious Case of the Incident in the Kitchen

Such a good word, ‘supine’. I 

Thought about that, sighing, as I 

Felt the bones uncrack, the muscles

Unscream, the nerves unjangle, 

Stretched out my crumpled spine,

Happy to finally uncurve my back. Of

Course, that is when the kitchen chose

To attack. First I heard the mixie whirr – 

The younger was there pottering and I

Seriously thought it had helicoptered away

With her. I ignored it. The demand on my

Supined Self was high, and I couldn’t afford it.

Then came the shrieks and squawks, the splash

The spill. I mean, forget explosive, we’re talking


Long story short, it was everywhere. Banana mango

Ooze on counter, cabinet, oven and chair, gloop

Underfoot and glops in the hair, and the wailing

At the loss of labour and shake too much to bear.

The family wonders now why the kitchen is shining.

I wonder what happened to my plans of supining.

My Art Will Go On

“You know”, I say, as I tuck my fingers between hers,

“My teacher put balls of crumpled brown paper

Between mine.” She grimaces, part ai-ai part

Ew, but her fingers figure out what to do.

She fans them out, positions the bow,

And launches into the famous Titanic ballad. Slow,

Painful, amid much cracking and clattering,

I hear the music emerge. That is how I know

It goes on. This feel of the wood singing

Under the fingertips, forgotten so long

The urgings of the kid bringing the old 

Joy surging back into the veins. The art

Strains the wrist, but the heart 

Has little respect for middle age’s aches 

And pains. And goes on. 

Gratuitous Picture of Dog Attached (You’re Welcome)

My daughter thinks time stands still
While she plays with her dog. She’s not
Done licking my hand, she explains, chill,
Mom. It’s late, maths awaits, but what
I clearly don’t understand – the eye-roll
Punctuates the exasperation –
Is how time and tide wait, and no bells toll,
And the earth stills its rotation;
Clock hands twiddle their thumbs, because
The dog and her human haven’t played all day.
And here’s the riddle: Why is it so late, calculus
Takes so long! she wails. This is probably not
A good time to weigh Time taken against
Time spent, and when we wonder where the years
Went, will those hours learning calculus
Help us calculate value-per-lick versus
The short end of homework’s stick?

Unnameable II

I remember when my girls were small,
I trained myself never to say their hands
Were soft as flowers. Or that their faces
And smiles and dancing figures brought
To mind roses or lilies or stalks of tall
Rajnigandhas. Not even the thought
Was allowed to enter my heart. A heart
In whose depths lay a memory so wild
-“She was like a flower, my little child” –
A mother whispering of her girl, 2002.
I will never – am never allowed to – forget you.

Unnameable I

Not that many years ago, I wrote
A poem for my daughter who was eight
How she spent hours making paper
Horses. The delicate art of
Origami concentrating her young frame
The wind in their manes a kind of grace.
Today another eight year old face
Asks me how little feet flying
Over hills and grass with a herd
Of horses in her care, are now lying
In a grave seven kilometres away
From a resting place denied her
When the only grace granted her
Was dying.

You Can Only Fix Their Problems For So Long

When you look back on this day, she said,
It will be one of your parenting successes.
I always successfully parent, I snort, you just
Don’t always appreciate it. Well, she said,
Well done today. I probably won’t look back
On this, or if I do, I will have forgotten what
It was that I successfully did. It might be just
As well if the passage of years hid these peaks
And troughs of raising kids. One rarely speaks
In the past tense of one’s parenting, anyway.
As if the present continuous were the only
Tense in which a parent could convey the
Gut-wrench of knowing your kids went
To bed happy at the end of the day.


These days it’s feet.
I know this because within
The lines meant for maths
Or historical facts, or data
From experiments, I find,
Instead, ballet shoes. Tied
Cross-ribboned, crumple-toed.
Northstars, loose-laced,
Casually en point. It’s been
A while since I saw braids
Everywhere, in margins and
Corners, curved about the binding.
I think about this random finding
Of my daughter, in notebooks
That I’ve bought her. Noting
How learning is often a matter
Of reading between the lines.

Warriors I: A Reckoning Of Forces

A warrior is a funny creature
As much fierce and fire
As she is mud and mire.
As much tears as blood
As much ebb as flood.
And when once you have fought her
Seen the triumph you have brought her
You’ve done no more than teach her
That wars are won by no higher
Force than our daughters.

Warriors III

Before we had things
To put in our house
They danced in the empty spaces.
And sometimes when we sing
Of all we have lost
The night flows past in their voices.
How many times I’ve laid them down
My weapons and my defences
Only to find them forged anew
And alight in my daughters’ faces.