Light and Shadow From The Literary Nest

The Day and Night Under the Banyan
By Pratibha Kelapure
First Published in The Lake (November 2017)


In front of the temple the loud rustle of banyan leaves
Children swing from the aerial roots, jump and squeal
Women go around the trunk with vermilion thread
Dutifully praying for the eternal life for their husbands

All through the day the persistent pealing of temple bell
Grandmothers feed the children homemade bread
Dole out the cold remedies and recite stories of
Neighborhood feuds and scandalous spinsters

The pride and joy of wedded women on full display
Hugging the sons, flaunting a measure of success
Others nurse a nagging dread of being the barren one
Worse yet bearing a daughter or two, even worse yet…


Murmur of leaves under the sprawling banyan tree
Crows gaze, some fitful whistles from a mynah
Sleeping villagers surrounded by still landscape
She emerges from behind the massive trunk

Pulls the folds of her sari together as tears and
Dishonor flow from her eyes hope draining away
The ripples on the river shimmer under the stars
She recognizes the invitation to become the flotsam

Along with driftwood and yesterday’s temple flowers
She considers it for a moment and then pushes away
The shame and tosses it towards the men where it belongs
The village officers running away under the cloak of darkness


Sonnet for Reflected Light\

By Andrena Zawinski
From Traveling in Reflected Light (1995)

(inspired by Louis MacNeice’s Snow)

Sometimes the way the light moves in and spins
the chime of porcelain gulls to streak across
the drawn and muted shade, I’m taken back
beneath a tinsel rain on waves that ebb out
to the sea. Sometimes the way the light slips
through a crack inside the frame before a freeze,
all arms and legs, I forage angels in the snow
and laugh out loud at winter running wild again.

Sometimes when light ruffles edges of paper slips,
notices of half-done things, it travels dream in all
things touched and yet to be. Sometimes so dazzling
brilliant resplendent, the mere delight in light will
swell the room, and I can see there is more than this
squint of glass between the sun and the shade.

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