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Three Poems : Roopam Mishra

Ms. Roopam Mishra lives in Lucknow, India. She is a Research Scholar at the Department of English & Modern European Languages, University of Lucknow. She writes in Hindi, and in English since the age of thirteen. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in an anthology Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind, and in magazines, and journals like Confluence Magazine, Setu, Aspiring Writers’ Society e-zine, Rusty Truck, Café Dissensus, Literary Yard, Borderless Journal, Hastaksher, Sahityiki, Rhetorica Quarterly, etc.

Lost in Translation
The tall pampas grass stalks call out to you gleaming
silver bellowing in the pleasant monsoon breeze.
Paddy fields draw your eye as you drive past the countryside
unaware of the snakes hiding in ankle-deep water on the fields.
Dry, patchy lands make the sun-lit skies seem brighter and
the day harsher over the cracked grounds.
First drops of rain never reach the Earth’s bosom, they are
effervescent as they touch its skin.
There are six seasons as per the Hindu tradition but none
can be put in the tongue of the colonizer.
The colour of my skin gets lost in translation.

Moringa Tree

when I imagine a tree growing out of a person
I imagine it sprouting at the coccyx, climbing the spine as it grows
from beneath the skin. 

men don’t change cities, jobs, homes when faced with 
dejection, failure, abuse
the roots travel all the way to the earth’s core 
travelling down their thighs, knees, calves, toes.

roots find water several feet below the ground 
sprouting out of toes, fixating men in places unawares
establishing themselves firm, being fearful of letting go the soil
losing life.

grandfather buried moringa beans right above the well
it shades his charpoy, the well dry now.
a snake would coil at its base in heavy monsoon rains, scorching summer sun he would
watch it immovably, fear-struck.

the tree growing out of grandfather’s body, I saw roots down his toes,
branches towering overhead. his beloved moringa tree grew large, drumsticks 
hung down the branches like fear,
glistened like calm and tranquility in his pupils.

paralysed, he stayed alive and fearless until he was moved to the hospital 
in the city, away from the tree.
they chopped down the moringa tree after his demise
fearing his soul would return to lodge permanently in the
moringa tree.


The places you don’t let your children go
They go, nonetheless. Secretly, tip-toeing the periphery
As you lay in a deep slumber
Eyes fixated on a screen, your monotonous, blood-sucking,
Capitalist boot-licking. You lie back playing
Arm-chair politics, anxiety-driven, stock-market-stricken,
Wrapping a blindfold of convenience over your eyes; Children slip away 
Far from your grasp of authority, form their castles of quietude
Or furore—miles away from your constrictive shelter.
They slip away into the looming darkness of secrets wrapped in a million gauzy layers,
Of which they can’t make sense of until
Traversing the musky corridors of adolescence,
Making sense of anatomy, genetics, progeny, they find truths wrapped in
Crude, ugly charades. They befriend biased notions
Of gender, identity, and orientation; They become display shelves 
Of masculinist perceptions—
Weighing their worth through prejudiced scales, they slip away
From the cradle into the muck and filth of age, 
Searching, seeking, watching, reading answers of questions
Forbidden, prohibited, banned,
Hidden by you behind barred doors,
On locked floors, inaccessible tabs, missing prompts
They find answers in halves, bask in the discovery,
Are poisoned by the pleasures denied, and acquisitions much sweeter.


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