3 poems- Sharanya Manivannan

Portrait As Phoenix


What if I lived

only so I could speak of this:


of we who survive damnation.


I who on the other side of selfhood

emerged a creature infernal:


mother, mud-eater,

beautiful as forest fire





I who have borne the unbearable,


I who held the unspeakable

in my beak

as I tried to sing









In those years of hallucinatory dreaming

I was convinced that when you returned,

it would be in some inconceivable form.


A trick of light, a shadowless being,

a beauty so startling that mirrors

would withdraw, opaque as the winter

lakes of the northern countries.


I looked for you everywhere.


I thought you were coded in the wind,

a sunburst, a falling star, a golden deer.

My longing drawn taut as a bowstring,

I could have sighted you in any guise.


One grows watchful in the wilderness,

believes everything possible.


I would have taken you in any shape,

any apparition you arrived in, man or beast,

illusion or evidence, demon or god.

Any shape you could have come in.

If only you had come.






I remember the forest – how at

the border’s stillness I would

take its songs into my

mouth like a vow       before I crossed over.


Each time, a river unscripted

but already told.


I arrive again after years of bramble,

navigatingpaths bled of the same

red earth of my bones.


This is not the dismemberment

I convulsed at the threshold in


in those long years of banishment.


I would have received any falsehood

but this I could never have imagined


– this ingress, this homecoming –

that I would run through the trail


by the light of forest moon,

a desert prodigal

offering flowers to the garden.




Read Sharanya Manivanan interview here

First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India
3 poems archived/published on 12.15.2014