Requiem for an unknown Tigress Cub

by T. Wignesan

still the climbing green lianoid lass
her tender tendrils torn
massive metal lying like a cutlass
in her lap forlorn
finger on trigger

still the wetness thighs eyes
the breasts peaking
the quick quelling blushing frenzy
the slightly forwardthrusting awkward turgidness of the torso
the stalk-neck craning
a young pallid green palmyra on the thrust
the dusky knuckly fingers strict and bony quivering
the gangly gait now stiffening
and within alert grasp
an AK-47
rounds of bandolier bullets
nipping her nipples
fatigues for jungle sarees loose silk anklelength skirts
over rough cotton jodhpurs
rubbery canvas shoes for Ali Baba leather sandals
sandalwood clogs

the loin-length sesame-oiled tresses severed at the shoulders
the rationed tampax crushed in the back jodhpur pocket
the drilled march still aching in the pelvic girdle
the shoulder blades
too tendon-strained streaky shark’s fins

her mind on her mother’s diurnal diabetic needle
and the relief the dowry promised to the boy next door
the lightly tripping fiesta truant feeling
a matinee show
the classes well the classes but for the maths teacher
she was just then getting on the mend

her mind shutting out the homely odour of steaming
puttu and cambal
itiyappam and coti
rasam and rice

the rat-a-tat of sudden staccato fire
the screaming blinding flash of shells
the dirgeful thudthud of bursting bombs
the grating crackling of armoured car chains
and the distant muffled blasts
droning planes swooping
the bark and shriek of schrapnel...

then the raspy clipped yelp of the platoon commander
ends her reverie

her face crushed against a mound of freshturned sod
her right knee twisted trapped in the hunched cavern of her
pubertally pulpy belly
the breath expelled in an urgent wheezing crushed moan
the last stifled desperate cry
for her long distraught mother

© T.Wignesan – Paris, May 1st., 1997 ; rev. 2012 ; from the collection : Words for a Lost Sub-Continent, 1999.

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About T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at