Poornima Laxmeshwar’s ‘Thirteen’, a collection of thirteen prose poems, is a cardigan of memories knitted from simple observations and conversations unique to one’s own home and surroundings. A synaethesia of colours and textures etched in a technicolour that refuses to fade away. They depict the transformation of a child’s musings into a mature perspective.
The poet’s stark observations flow down in metaphoric personifications. Cowrie shells, betel nut, prayers, peepul tree – these common elements of a dwelling away from city dust are among the others of a circumference. Picking a thread, one at a time, Poornima weaves a canopy from a mundane where syllables are concealed for a decipherance much later for a reminiscing adult.
There is also an attempt to hear the unsaid, understand the silences.
‘Do dreams burn holes on the sleeves of age and gnaw at every dawn?’ The poet asks her mother in the poem ‘The ladle that never tasted soup’ when she recalls seeing her mother burying desires with things of the past, old and redundant.
So is the poem ‘The secret pocket in the petticoat’ where a demure Grandma flaunted her precious nose piece that outlived her into an unknown future. In another one the poet dwells in the shadows of her Grandma’s widowed living whose favourite colour was ‘gulaabi’.
The poet does not question these practices, be it fantasies or fables, beliefs or societal practices but explores the concealed emotions and this process in her collection is gender neutral. If the poem ‘Lonely socket in the verandah’ tried to dissect the emptiness of her father’s work life, the poem ‘Transmutation of memories’ dwells in what remained of her grandpa’s belongings who was remembered by his favourite dishes cooked on his death anniversary.
Every poem is a contemplation of what could have been, a work in progress where memories are replayed and peeled, layer by layer, to unearth the unspoken like sounds of a silence. The collection of thirteen poems is a window, one that might offer you lushness, petrichor churned out of fragrances that lives deep within us. Some memories do not need a reason or significance to remain alive but they do live warped in time like chronicles of childhood. As the poet notes ‘Starchy memories are the toughest to wash away’.
(‘Thirteen’ is a chapbook by Poornima Laxmeshwar published by Yavanika Press, Bangalore, India)