On Poems by S

On Frankaffe, Sushrut Munje shares his experiences on reading Sheetal Sivaramakrishnan's poetry. Titled 'with me / otherwise', the book offers a look within.

The first time I came across Sheetal Sivaramakrishnan’s Facebook profile, it was due to the striking nature of the profile picture. It dared, and my immense curiosity had me wanting to know more about this seemingly delightful lady. Her profile had a link mentioning a book on poetry, which was purchased almost immediately. A quick note was sent to her appreciating what seemed like a promising read. In the book, she asks us to read it with some cake and coffee. I have been waiting for an opportune moment, till recently.

“this was what i was sipping
pondering and dreaming
when i fell in something else
like into love, with you.”

She writes about love, parting ways and everything in between. There is much warmth, and here is angst. There is pain and a loss to understand where one stands. She scoffs, she sings and writes about the way she drinks it all in. With ease, her words slip into a conversation of summer and the rain. Almost as if you have bumped into her on a long winding village road, sat beneath a tree and exchanged stories for a longer time.

One can almost imagine how her words are leaping out of the paper, absurd yet making sense in the way they have been structured. Absurd, yet falling into place like a human does. Absurd, and utterly mad, utterly raw, reminding you of what you went through the last time you had sex.

“chewing elastic,
saccharine litchis all season
teeth and tongue
you and me.
superlative kisses in motion.”

It is a wonder how a poet has the ability to wring one dry with an earnest tone. It is a wonder how a poet can be so honest, and describe the instances of stark vulnerability. Not unlike an artist, who paints a mind on the blank canvas. A blush of colors on the vacant beige, a caress of moist words at the onset of rain. Licking you, and teasing. I could sense a release as I went through her poems, yet there was so much that was held back, so much more that she wanted to say.

“i am wearing them.
doubts.
small shimmering spots.
on my naked being.
just like i wear you.
i need to shop.”

An artist creates and we consume. I struggled to understand a few phrases, but I need to understand the poet better in order to understand what they create. And perhaps, what I’m meant to understand is the experience her words offered me as I took them in. I looked within, all through, walking through the ‘garden of doubt’ as she has described it, recognizing my own within. Held the ‘dead bird’ I have happened to find on my Thursday too, realizing what its burial might mean.

Her words are followed by his laugh, sounding like the aftertaste of walnuts. She has company in her world. I do too, but her Latin whispers are still trying to make sense of the new season. My songs are missed, and poetry is not the language I can choose to converse in, for it is lost in the clouds. I read the book with a rare longing. It was a comfortable, intimate experience.

Sheetal’s poetry asked me to look within. I did so, with some delicious cake and coffee.

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