Poems for the Girl in the Peapod

Tsuru no Ongaeshi

—based on a Japanese Folktale


mon amour,
I’m afraid

if I knock on your
door when
you are hidden
to the world,
weaving silken
selling them
for the price
of being in love,

if I knock on your
door when
you are bearing
the frost
for the future,
eating a humble
bowl of rice,
and disquiet,

You too will turn back
into a crane, fly away
never to return


The girl in the Peapod


It terrified us,

your stumbling upon

a photograph

where you are in a green


tailored like a pod,

giant toy peas lining

your ~three feet,


This kid, now an adult,

concealed in an

eponymous sobriquet

I dedicate poems to;

who knew?


When you Travel

Clock-hands whirr
like wind-vanes
before a hurricane.
Having no time
for sleep or brunch,
you drop
fountains, jugglers,
& tulips
down your surprise,
tuck Montpellier
in your blouse.
But on your body,
my hands become
the traveler you are:
in a time-lapse
video under the skin,
seeking fireflies
& thrill till being sucked
out the train window.

Sketch of you reading my favourite childhood book

The quilt revealing your calfs, ankles
entangled and swaying. Your spine—
its Soviet bent, published
in a Moscow before perestroika.
From my arm-chair, with French
windows opened to the chill,
horses below the damned
hills drawing spectral troikas.
It’s strange for a man who scribbles
to try to sketch you on the bed:
in the last page of a notebook meant
for you to copy my sole talent;
now aimed at your afterglow—
only fractured by your time
to go.




We may soon not remember


My dragonfly,
its black-
spine and yellow eyes,
or the wild grass

from your belly-button;
—a just-kissed mole, this
neolithic art on the cave
of your abdomen,
envying the passion
in my kitsch—
were painted first


The ladybug near my chest;
the brush in your hand,
dipping into pastels
black   white   red
your half-buttoned dress…
teeth-marks, sweat,
and the gravity of doubt
endowing its every dot
with a fear strong enough
to event-horizon
this moment from our retinas.


Our first bath washed
it all— wings, smushed
compound eyes,
salt, scratches, camouflage
and tales: a dragonfly,
against dravidian Darwinian
odds, mating
with a ladybug;
two children under a shower
taking turns shampooing
backs till they’re still scented
with each other, and apple.


Loving your Poem


Since you didn’t
you climax in your
poem: the first
of many you will write,
late into the night,
in Unicorn
a devil.

I see it clawing
through a moleskin
notebook till you rip
off its horn, carve
with its sharp end
the feelings
you never knew you

I see you curled on
its cover, thumb-sized,
by pizza crumbs,
yellow petals,
oily misses.
your head,
a pair of childhood
earrings strung
on a tune delirious,

as you’re telling
the cairns:
But I almost came.


Burning Question

After the teas,
a harangue on smoking,
passive and not,
or how some pretend
to take false-puffs,
merely hold a drink,
to give others company…

Walking back
to our vehicles in pairs,
you suddenly turn
around in mischief and whisper:
do you
enjoy itthe post-coital



Arjun Rajendran

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