Uma Gowrishankar – ‘The Gardener as a lover’, ‘The anatomy of a Tamarind tree’

The Gardener as a lover


Seeds travel all over, sprout

from cracks in walls. Different plants

cohabit in a tub – basil with jasmine,

butterfly pea with honeysuckle.


The inflorescence of the mustard field

leaves a scar on the retina

blazing hours after I remain

blindfolded in a jaundiced darkness.


He never trims a tree,

the branches awkwardly crisscross

arms twist like

an amateur yoga practitioner.


He taught me how to lie

in a patch of dead marigolds

the smell of seeds masculine

trapping to the pores in my skin.


The morning glory soaks in

the blue of the sky till

all that is mirrored in his eyes


is the blinding light of my desire.




The anatomy of a Tamarind tree


All that he owned was a tamarind tree

even the land where the house stood was not his.


So, what is yours? the young wife asked coiling her finger

into his matted hair. His drunken eyes looked from her


to the pods on the tree, her skin the texture of seeds.

Eyes swimming like leaves in the breeze, he smiled:


my mother made me a mirror of earth and river.

She laughed, but there is no river for miles around.


Here it is, he held her wrist. The nerve twisted in

sediments of the memory of her people. The river ran


below the skin of cantaloupe, in the musculature of soil

where the roots of the tamarind tree spread. She saw it


in the spine of her man, the fine branching of blue veins

in the neck as he arched towards her.



Uma Gowrishankar is a writer and artist from Chennai. Her poems and fiction have appeared in online and print journals that include City (A Journal of South Asian Literature), Qarrtsiluni, Buddhist Poetry Review, Catapult Magazine, Curio PoetryPure Slush and Postcard Shorts. Her first full-length collection of poetry ‘Birthing History’ was published by Leaky Boot Press.