The Old Playhouse

The Old Playhouse :

You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her

In the long summer of your love so that she would forget

Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but

Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless

Pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge

Of yet another man that I came to you but to learn

What I was, and by learning, to learn to grow, but every

Lesson you gave was about yourself. You were pleased

With my body's response, its weather, its usual shallow

Convulsions. You dribbled spittle into my mouth, you poured

Yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed

My poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife,

I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and

To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering

Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and

Became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your

Questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer

Begins to pall. I remember the rudder breezes

Of the fall and the smoke from the burning leaves. Your room is

Always lit by artificial lights, your windows always

Shut. Even the air-conditioner helps so little,

All pervasive is the male scent of your breath. The cut flowers

In the vases have begun to smell of human sweat. There is

No more singing, no more dance, my mind is an old

Playhouse with all its lights put out. The strong man's technique is

Always the same, he serves his love in lethal doses,

For, love is Narcissus at the water's edge, haunted

By its own lonely face, and yet it must seek at last

An end, a pure, total freedom, it must will the mirrors

To shatter and the kind night to erase the water.

Kamala Das

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