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Three Poems—Smitha Sehgal


Smitha Sehgal is a lawyer-poet. She writes poetry in two languages- English and Malayalam. Her poems, fiction and book reviews have featured in contemporary literary publications as Reading Hour, Brown Critique, Kritya, Muse India, The Wagon Magazine, Usawa Literary Review, Parcham, Madras Courier, Water Video Mag, Poetica Review UK, EKL Review, The Criterion, Kalakaumudi, Samakalika Malayalam, Kalapoorna, ShadowKraft, Da Cheung (Korean Literary Journal) and anthologies including “40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry” , “Witness -Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent.



Light years of green


they melt smiles and onion peel

flesh of tango, curl of purple clouds

torment of algorithms

a creek pours tears of stars

craggy mountains flow into plains

angst of difficult earth, spring flowers emerging from hedge

sun ripens in bangled wrists 

guava skin crumbles around mouth oozing sap

in dark hearth

stirring potions of algae roots

growing on skull of night

feet upon shadows, black love knotted

they squat beneath mango trees

dark mud under nails, squashing lice

brethren of Summer.

In undocumented folklores, she wolves,

laughing, leaping arcs

Grandmothers of Somnambulant Moon.


In the garden they are different men

growing roses in silence, pulling up weeds

each root breaking through soft sigh of soil 

tending to leaves

turning spade and shovel

melting moon eyes

black diary conversations border gingerly

on crime and punishment 

noted down with date:


offence (with applicable section)




repentance is a rare plant

concealed in rocky terrains

the man who stabbed to death his wife and lover

pants heavily, frothing around mouth

sweat trickling, eyes swirling

he describes

sickle of night

hooking words, in shaft of growing shadows

I clutch my prison diary

Humid, handwritten notes

I want to say, I am not her

air becomes river, opens vortex into

shredded green Summer

chewing grains of unfamiliar days

they obliterate

old costumes of names 

folding smiles

in the bird call of garden

they train minds to turn to numerical

stoic faces

fusing questions into answers

in a prison diary of the fifth year of confinement

when night draws its veil

silver moon angling, pours liquid light into 

stones and roses

I want to say, I am not her.


Flowers by the night train

sweet cloy lingers in unwashed corridors

sleeping without ticket

morning brushes away, words spun of 

riverine languages

plucked from root of life 

they become poems in a universe of stars

many such nights migrant tribes of fish, look toward moon 

mulling, hushing, whether journeys would have 

been different, days clothed in black 

ebullience of unspoken lips, 

nobody defines lightyears of a butterfly 

across river, or that of a bird darting 

from leaf to branch, spider counting pearls

of rain, housed in gossamer spittle

cutting air into halves, insipid rocks with

oval lips, fly away as owls

water is knee deep, leading to moss

path, if you must know, a thousand 

rivulets birthed yesterday night

growing fingers of sea, around earth

in meditative thoughts of a grass hopper 

dissecting, grouping properties

of un-retrieved bodies, becoming sour ash

singing unheard songs of journey.


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