Kunthi Mol’s plaits are her mother’s joy.
She recalls being displayed back to front,
for admiring visitors. Spending hours laving them
with extract of coconut, Amma combed to fruition

her daughter's hair, arrayed like a coral creeper,
black as the hearts of her many suitors.
Kunthi Mol immerses herself into the Ponnani.
For a moment, all is skin and nerve endings.

Brownian motion on the lake’s surface,
a million shards shimmer in the midmorning.
A covetous sun yearns, waiting for his moment
to insinuate himself into the glistening.

Out of the water, she ties ends of her tresses
into a small posy. Facing up to the sky,
she shakes her head, water runs off her back
into the lake from this little knot

above the cleft of her bottom.
A droplet catches the light, Surya
finds his way between hemispheres,
submitting to gravity to seek the shade within.

Returning to a coir bed, a cool sheet
Kunthi Mol, sweetly somnolent, daydreams.
Her thighs separate, just slightly, just so,
enough for this dewdrop

to be released into the light from the inner court
of the yettakattu. Divinity morphs into a spray
of golden mustard, liberating eddy currents,
edging towards the cleaven darkness.

The spinning top caresses her to tumescence.
In her lucid trance she believes,
and is taken by a hirsute god, full bearded,
auburn skinned, gleaming with palm oil

who works her knowledgeably,
seasons rawness into eager compliance.
Unseen, beyond moving eyelids, golden spores
turn clock
wise, and swiftly push home.

She calls out for her Amma softly,
comprehensively naming all the objects
that have given pleasure, incantations
to her tongue, her nostrils and skin:

in the sweltering summer room
one part of her is the sum of all her parts.
Phoebus the thief completes his consecration
and dissolves in a cascade of aurum,

leaving behind only a sparkle
that seeps from between her,
and a golden tuft that she will
wake in wonderment to discover.

Mustansir Dalvi

If you've any comments on this poem, Mustansir Dalvi would be pleased to hear from you.