person Rishitha Shetty, three poems

Rishitha Shetty lives in Bangalore, India. Her work has appeared in The wild word, Califragile, Muse India, Spark Magazine, The Quail Bell Magazine, The Indian Review, and The Literary Yard. She is a member of Bangalore Writers Workshop.



A dip in the Netravati,
to wash sins that
escape soap.
It is said that when a
wounded tiger wet
his bloody paw in her banks,
she blushed red
like the ripe cashew-apple.

From here, naked feet took with them
the sweet sting of a forgotten myth
and she took their sins.

Her limbs twisted out of creeks in
swollen streets,
she cut an artery
bled into boulders,
and a writer wrote
of her fury
in his book of songs.

But remember, I have crackled in your mouths like a twig,
even as my sisters wept at their burning skin.
I promise you, your tears are safe in my eye
and theirs-
I have etched in my shriveling veins.

These wind-swept homes once trembled
with echoes of her laughter
and now the boats
will swallow her grief.

They say, she washed up
many things after a deluge-
boats with holes,
a book of songs

and sins,
wrapped inside the
pristine whiteness of
conch shells.
A dip in the Netravati, they say,
to wash sins that escape soap.



I) Marital bliss

O’ Marriam, She tumbles now on her back,
now on her stomach, as she pumps
And the wave of her saree weaves
Cheeks stitched in earth
Lips, a trembling boat.

II) Measly Meal for Goddess

we slice open
her cheek –
will you
touch now
that tongues dreamt of?
watch her
chew flesh-
the churning
of other bones, Won’t you let us-
slice up
and serve you
your own skin?

III) Bonded songs

Master’s land opens
in my thumb-
rolls of brown
cracking to the high
octave odd syllables
Of a farm song.

a small wooden brown box
will hold a brown thumb-
my daughter will sing of
breaking brown lands,
breaking brown box,
and years
counted off on
powdered knuckles
with blue ink.



My mother’s prayer is the act
of gathering leaves-
the shape of each syllable measured out like love,
like the first bite of fish after monsoon.

Today I hear her pray like I listen
to the rain on the window pane-
left out,
from the inside.
Perhaps praying, like a movie,
is constructed out of various acts-

the tilt of her chin,
her back curved like the top
of a flower stalk, and across her shoulder
the old purple shawl.
Or perhaps, it is lilac.

I cannot remember if it had poppies or
roses on it.
What I do remember is the shape of my mother,
and how the poppies or roses smelt of sun.
the sun feels like an afterthought,
like a volta to a sonnet
written after days.

Last night I drew a painting of the sea
And my mother approved-
she said there are only so many colors the fingers can hold,
the rest is in the folds of salt in air.

Today I see my mother
As if in a painting
that shimmers in the
monochrome of a strange new color called faith.
It falls somewhere between the
strands of escaped light from an empty fist and
the fading silhouette of my mother praying.





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