Lily Swarn

Three Poems



Your antique surmedaani 
Blackened by years of sitting demurely
On your frugally endowed dressing table 
The grey-black surma that you put in your rheumy eyes 
With a slim metal stick ,lining their droopy sleepiness effectively 

Your arms clothed in flowered cotton prints 
Opening wide to hold me near your ample bosom 
A faint whiff of a lilac scented talcum powder 
Comforting because of its utter familiarity 
And the tin peepa of pinnis hiding behind the copper pot 

Your kitchen with its coal fired clay angeethhi 
Welcoming my childish prattle with gleaming shadows 
The clang clang of the ladle moving in the metal handi 
As you sang of bygone romances in lilting nasal tones 
Wiping off aching nostalgia from what is now an enemy country 

Your haunting nursery rhymes in colloquial cadence 
About babies and brides missing their parents 
As I danced a merry jig to the beat of your claps 
Till you switched to a folk lore of lovers doomed
“Tu sach dass ve jogi, Milan hosi ke na hosi “

O Beeji ,in the tin box of your memory 
A coin of comfort rattles 

Glossary -Surmedaani-container for antimony 
Peepa- an upright tin box 
Pinni -a sweet made of flour and nuts shaped into balls 
Angeethi - a clay stove with coal fuel 
Tu sach dass ve jogi ....Tell me truthfully ,O mendicant 
Will we ever meet ?

(Prompt- In the tin box of your memory, a coin of comfort rattles.  #CeWoPoWriMoWE'20, Day 11)

My Winter Socks


However hard I try 
My preoccupation with my 
Winter socks is unavoidable 
I cling to them like a baby chimpanzee to its mother 
Hiding them under my mattresses 
Placing them prominently displayed 
Along with my bed booties in the top drawer of my otherwise shabby closet 
The effort that goes in tucking them away after the harsh North Indian winters
Is quite like the diligence of the busy squirrel with a bushy tail 
Stashing away his treasure trove of nuts for winter 
The one in the Jacaranda tree opposite my  window 
This frisky squirrel darts his eyes  hither  and thither furtively
Well ! I do not!

My socks are the warmest that you can find in Costco 
Even the ones in Walmart are acceptable 
I don’t care if they look hideous and grandma like 
Grandma’s are sweethearts  and so am I 
They should look wooly and cuddly at the same time 
I am partial to dowdy greys and charcoal blacks 
You know to match my slippers 
I dare say I possessed a pair of letter box red ones 
They made my family squirm as they thought they were hardly age appropriate 
I never cringed for they were the warmest ones I possessed 

Did you know that bulky hand knitted socks that I wore to school for many years 
Had given me an inferiority complex despite my mother’s best cables and smart stiches?
The other stylish girls wore the shop bought machine made ones 
On hindsight they were intricately webbed with my gentle mother’s love and handiwork 
And kept my tiny chilled feet very warm and toasted 
The ones that I have kept till today are the ones a boy from Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh got for me as a gift 
Along with a crate of fragrant Kinnauri apples 
They were woven in a vivid and colourful folk pattern 
I almost fell in love with him 

Socks also speak much about a human just as shoes do 
They might spell class if they are branded and ridiculously priced 
Or a devil may care attitude if they are loud patterned and garish 
Delicate translucent ones suggest a refined fashionista 
Skin coloured ones and sheer black ones 
Are seductive for they allow  a tantalising glimpse of flesh 

It’s very important to wash them regularly 
If you don’t want to lose your friends 
The good thing is that you can scare away the mice with their atrocious stink 
Never wear socks which are not a pair
They look better as husband and wife 
Flirting with other’s socks is not recommended at all
Mostly because an ill matched pair calls attention to the love affair !!

(Prompt -A piece of clothing. #CeWoPoWriMoWE'20, Day 17) 

I Will Meet You Again

I will meet you yet again 
 In the osmosis of plasma in 
my blood vessels 
Imbibing your essence deep in my lungs 
Far above the resting ,reviving Mother Earth 
I will meet you in my distanced embrace 
Far more warm than the real bodily hug 
For I will clutch your being to my soul 
Attaching it with clamps of black rosed ishq 

I will erase the blueprint of the creator 
And draw your destiny in my hennaed palms 
Fighting societal norms and rewriting morality 
I shall simply name you mine with a fiendish finality 
Don’t fear my fanatic acquisition tactics my beloved 
I always get what I want. Go ask my friends if I lie 
Or simply believe Amrita Pritam who puffed Sahir’s stubs 

I will meet you again in the words on your screen 
For you will be writing me instead of your religious jargon 
I will wade through barriers of race and community 
And emerge with kathak moves , mildly coquettish too 
No Priest or Maulana will be able to stop my flight 
As I do a perfect soft touch landing on your viscous being 

I will meet you again in your graphic dreams 
When disease and pandemics are drawing daggers 
You will have my image chiseled and engraved in your brain 
I shall walk in and out of your thoughts nonchalantly 
Never having to ask for a biometric pass for entry and exit 
You are not a foreign country any more my love 
It took a virus to explain the fact that I am as much yours 
As all those other loves that you harbored in your choppy seas 

I will meet you in the pages of your daily Economic Times 
In your share markets and business transactions too 
Hovering over the bulls and bears of financial markets 
Merging out of your highs and depressions galore 
Offering to kiss away your frowning woes 
Touching the silvery grey in your temples 
I will meet you yet again 
Prompt by Ishmeet Nagpal - I will meet you yet again 
from Amrita Pritam’s “Mai Tainu phir milaangi". #CeWoPoWriMoWE'20,Day 18

Lily Swarn, our WE Diva of the World, is a multilingual poet, author, columnist, gold medalist, university colour holder, radio show host and Peace Ambassador, writing in different genres. A Trellis of Ecstasy, has received praise as a veritable delight by The Journal of Commonwealth literature in London. The Gypsy Trail, Lilies of the Valley, have been highly appreciated . History on My Plate got rave reviews. She has won over fifty international and national awards like Reuel International Prize for Poetry, Global Icon of Peace, Sahitya Rattan, Gujarat Sahitya Akademi Award, Master of Creative Impulse, Sarojini Naidu Award,Woman of Substance, Kairat Duissenov medal for poetic excellence, Order of Shakespeare Medal among others. Lily’s poetry has been translated into sixteen European and Asian languages and her Urdu ghazals have been set to music. She was recently declared finalist for Global Culture Champion Award by UK’s She Inspires Awards.