h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s






We make pickles of all seasons

Squeeze the colours and tastes.

Our cities dwell in pickles

made by us in cartographic kitchens.

They sweep the words, many times eavesdrop

The onion  sulfa

Archaic mysteries

In the calligraphy of spices.

The new generations inherit them

like old ancestral  diseases.

They swallow  stories. They return in hunger.

When our turn comes, we burn the left over secrets too.



History is like my favorite tape recorder,

Plays preferential stories.

Our ancestral home wears red bangles,

In those haphazard days of rare summers.

I know pickle making,

Copied from each green hinge to another,

All of them setting their time with five minutes difference,

Talk of vegetable cultivation, watering pots,

Repeat the marriage dates,

Regretful of short-lived flower season.


They are scared of fire.

Prefer  knife,

Zigzag the mangoes.

We were children of misplaced kitchens, eat them

before getting cringed    in the pickle jars,

Chewing the  tissuey   cubicles, our teeth sour, fainted.


Half drawn red circles on full crescent

Collecting mustard seeds,

Excluded from all chutnificated hyperboles

Summer afternoons reserved for  paraphrasing the mango slices, chilly, garlic,

Sault and    fuzzy oil.

Picklejars have almirahs on all four sides.

Each day they changed the stories.

Elders never go to the factories.

As pickling was our only pastime for all restless holidays.



When I was young enough to properly count,

Had handful of mirrors where fingers  wince with the wait

sudoriferous palms curve tendrils for    coronae.

One of them  was clever enough to sketch my ears.

The other resembles a dry  soap that slips between wet palms.

Plays with my eyes, Hyde and seek,

Kaleidoscope of light and dark

Tunnels when trains move through

The spaces  that connect stations

Scattering some food to the wind,

Songs for the windowpane.

Earlier I found them in my mother’s kitchen.

Somewhere hiding

 the cylindrical blocks

 Flesh at the walls of the pickle jars

Tiling her hands and feet

When she burns the ends of white school ribbons

Jagged onions, garlic peel,

Decoctions, shells, feed the roses

Her bangles draw circles in

the circles of those embroidery frames.


Now they prance

In the leaves of ancient   notebooks

Acetonic threads

Play  the record backwards

Puffed by the wild dust of the sharpeners

 Ready to paint my hands as squirrels

To tuck on a wide oily parchment

Some words to reuse,

the ice,

That spills from the greasy frames.



I want you to be in our wedding picture.

Not to be lost in flicking your ferromagnetic  hair with fingers

exhausted  in holding the  pleats.

Don’t conceal your face with timidity, comic smiles.

Of all, don’t read the dictionary too much,

Speak with your mum, your maids and watchmen,

about your photo in the passport.


Don’t cook marinara sauce  for  instant noodles,

Watching the pop dance when you play Violin.

Ideal in family gatherings.

I want you to be in the picture, you alone.



BIO: Jyothsnaphanija is a PhD scholar in English literature at EFL University,  India. Her poetry has appeared in IthacaLit, Melusine, East Coast Literary Review, Muddy River Poetry Review and others. Her short stories have appeared in eFiction India, Thickjam, research articles in several academic books and journals. She blogs at phanija.wordpress.com

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