Poetry Corner: ‘Saree’ by Vasantha Surya


It came wrapped in desire’s eager rustling

a gift I did not choose.

Though warp and weft obeyed

an ambiguous design, the shade


The texture satisfied

a hunger, not merely of the eye.


I shook it loose and shaped it to my use.

Line and colour clung to breast and thigh.

The border’s thread of gold

repeated in each pleat and fold

flashed in the mirrors of others’ eyes.


“It’s grand!” they said “Beware the evil eye!”

But one who called herself my friend

warned, “That red will run, and leave you stained!

All blotched you’re going to be, with memory!

It’s flimsy stuff — won’t last you till the end!

Don’t mistake me, but that jari’s fake!

I’m only telling you this for your own sake.”


She was right, and wrong.

Though the colour bled, the fabric held.

The texture satisfied

that hunger, not merely of the eye.

The gold proved genuine

silver — a not unacceptable exchange

when time came to trade desire and greed

for plain and simple need.


I have stripped the borders and bleached out the stains.

Rich decoration gone, each tantalising line

obliterated, it needs no defense

against  the evil eye. Of design,

promise, and pretense, nothing remains.


What’s left is unglossed warp and weft.

A sturdy weave as natural as air.

A seamless second skin

concealing and revealing what I choose

like clouds shaped and reshaped

to the sun’s ever-changing use.

Worn thin, the texture still satisfies

that hunger, not merely of the eye.


           From  “A Word Between Us”; 

– Sandhya Publications


 Vasantha Surya is a well known poet, translator, journalist and children’s writer. She has been observing the dynamics of social, cultural and linguistic changes in today’s India, and specifically in Tamil Nadu over the past four decades.