Seven poems by the Edinburgh-born poet who has lived in India for over 50 years, excerpted from Eucalyptus Sextet, published by Bombaykala Books (www.bombaykala.com), in which she explores the predicament of the middle-aged widow who after the first shock of bereavement finds herself constantly dreaming about sex
I sipped love from your lips
and warmed my soul against your body,
then left you sleeping
while I wrote of love.
The best was that morning
flavoured with delight:
After a night
spent drinking your body
I arose to write it down
before I lost the savour
and you slept, not knowing
I had turned satisfaction
into a number of words.
If I had known
you would go so soon
I would have left writing
till later: but what I had
was an itch
that would not be scratched,
and still I write of it.
Watch Out For Widows
I should say,
watch out for widows.
They are dangerous.
Needy for love,
in an emotional jungle.
We sally forth
in our war paint;
women on safari.
I think I should have
a small lasso
in my handbag.
In England I take a real bath:
Fill the tub, float half-submerged,
and look down its channel,
at pink toes twiddling the chain
of the rubber plug, and before I submerge,
the twin rounded sandbars of breasts.
Nipples poke up puckering periscopes.
Mapping my body in the narrow sea,
I view the continent of belly,
a wooded island, dolphin thighs,
knees, and of course, the toes.
The water cools. The tap yields only chill.
I emerge, a goose-pimpled Venus,
from my pale pink porcelain shell
into the chilly English air
chastely draped in a too-small towel.
And the toes, bless them, are still pink.
Look, A Frog
To find a prince you have to kiss
an awful lot of frogs. Some
were even toads, too repulsive
to kiss: but believe me
this is the best way to tell
if your frog will be a prince,
or just another frog.
Mostly they hopped away: a few
hung around, complaining
that they should have a second chance.
Never let them back in. Discarded frogs
must stay in their pond
while you move on.
Just once, I kissed a frog
and found a princess. Surprise!
I was tempted to see
what might come of princess and me,
but she moved on,
and I found myself another frog.
It is spring. New leaves dangle,
tenderly green. I imagine them
stroking me, your fingers in absentia;
at night, I lie and watch them
moving blackly under the street lights,
and wish you were here.
Today, I took a photograph
of the eucalyptus framed in the window,
thinking I would send it to you,
a gentle hint to return when you can,
be my lover, touch my body,
and leave those tender hanging leaves
outside where they belong. We will admit
their shadows as welcome guests,
let them fall across our bodies,
while we explore the possibilities
of light and dark.
I watched the eucalyptus sway,
tracing a tremulous arc
against the orange sky.
The new leaves had withered.
He Makes My Toes Wiggle
Don’t ask me how it happened.
we were on the floor, kissing,
and all that was missing
was soft music. But in my head
Mahler blared, wailed,
and wept unrestrained,
gave fire to our kisses.
It was all we needed.
A celibate time spent waiting
for the right Other:
it makes you itch
to be so deprived.
Is he right? Is it love?
I don’t know, but
he makes my toes wiggle
and I wear a permanent grin.
Lover, on Yellow Field
On the bed are deep yellow sheets:
Across their splendour lies your body,
indolent after love, lean and brown.
I will paint those lax lines, a picture
called ‘Limp Lover, On Yellow Field’.
Shiva, resplendent amid the turmeric,
dusted with it, gilded by morning sunlight.
I lay down my brush.
A new painting begins:
‘Two Lovers On A Yellow Field.’
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