Shivani Sekar – Two Poems


the beauty of writing in the bathtub.
claw-foot words scummy around brass taps,
open to unleash verbs and bubble nouns into the
murky depths of scribbles, lead smudges and biro.
i use waterproof mascara and toilet paper,
reams and reams, and manuscripts of single ply
and the end is damp and sudsy with syllables.
water’s ink-stained, cold, and i wallow in it,
so that i don’t have to send it down the drain
to sulk with my childhood spiders,
but let my fingers turn pronoun-pruney,
hunch-backed and spine exposed like a book
to be cracked, opened wide, pry fingers between
two sets of ribs, and fling them open like newborn’s eyes.
read the contents, slick paper and trembling
wet fingers that ruin the pages as they touch them.
words soaked away, turning my face to the
showerhead – gasping for air as stream of consciousness
slams into my face, says my words for me, and
uses my breath for them, and leaves me
shivering in the cold January light
bathing in papier-mâché.


Mother Tongue

Tongue unfurls, a cloth of gold,
rolled out to be sold to you. I’ve grown old,
cut from your cloth, brewed in your wardrobe,
soaked in your suits, tried on your finest verbs
to present to you. It’s technicolour –
and the dyes are running in my veins with pride,
now that I’ve tried on your fashion for size.

You look at me as though I’m a half-dead crab
jerking in front of you on the sand. Half-alive,
half-drab and half-there – just not where
you want me to be.
You want me to roll back the cloth, set it aside
mind my tongue, bind it. Yours is lined with ermine,
so you tell me, and I know, and
I’m in hell throughout your sermon
as you tell me that I’m outdated, threadbare
need darning, innocent darling, with my cheeks burning,
stripped in front of you,
sunk knee-deep in the linens I made for you
now that I’ve paid for you
and your manacle eyes.


The Kindling Shivani Sekar
Shivani Sekar is a writer from London, studying Medicine in St Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge. She is a commended Foyle’s Young Poet, and writes for her poetry blog, Sherbet Lemons.