When Landscape becomes woman….Arundhati Subramaniam

When Landscape Becomes Woman

Arundhati  Subramaniam

I was eight when I looked

Through a keyhole

And saw my mother in the drawing room

In her hibiscus silk sari,

Her fingers slender

Around a glass of iced cola

And I grew suddenly shy

For never having seen her before.

I knew her well, of course —

Serene undulation of blue mulmul,

Wrist serrated by thin gold bangle,

Gentle convexity of mole

On upper right arm

And high arched foot —

Better than I knew myself.

And I knew her voice

Like running water —

           Ice cubes in cola.

But through the keyhole

At the grownup party

She was no longer

Geography.

She seemed to know

How to incline her neck,

Just when to sip

Her swirly drink

And she understood the language

Of baritone voices and lacquered nails

And words like Emergency.

I could have watched her all night.

And that’s how I discovered

That keyholes always reveal more

Than doorways.

That a chink in the wall

Is all you need

To tumble

Into a parallel universe.

Those mothers are women.

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