Sumatheendra Nadig

When with warmth I hold you
You change to a marble Snake.
The water I swim, turns to ice.
Before our marriage, you were
a bunch of grapes. Did my tongue
water to snatch you from mother
and from a dear departed father?

As if a lion held an orphan
you grow terrified and turn aside.
If your curls are fingered, you
curl up like a worm. You my darling
touch-me-not, my virgin, my child
at last you have found a father in me.
And made me a mother too.

May be in the maternity home, they cut you
and packed you like meat.
You see their inhumanity in me
and turn to a log. My dreams are
full of eating. How irritated you are, how sick,
how sour, who was before the wedding ripe and delicious!

Tell me if I am mistaken. If you
had known yourself, you wouldn’t have
disguised thus. You became a peeler, a knife.
Are you my wife?
Your tufts of hair are snakes and with your look
I am stone. Tell me my darling Gorgon
the vengeance of how many births
is our home, sweet home?

Translated from the Kannada by the author.