Three Poems By Anna Mary Haskal

Pic by Kat Jayne


Translated from Malayalam by Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker)


Head swarming with melancholy lice

life imitates
the hair that cascades down
unknotting the tightest knots.

You cut it even as it grows
it grows even as you cut it.
Whichever way you cut it
there will always be a crowd
queuing up with suggestions.

You ask for permission
to cut your hair from

A woman’s life
has little to do
with her hair.

For a man’s life
there is no link to the
hair that he gazed at
for marrying a woman.

Now, if it’s her hair
reaching below her buttocks
that you are looking for
be happy picking up the hair
falling from her yoni.
Braid them around the
beauteous gateways!

This moment,
life is like a woman
with a tonsured head.

From her scalp
have flown away
the melancholy lice
that gnawed at her hair
for eons.


To a girl named Poesy

You know the girl
named Poesy.
The one who burned her fingers
through the final communion
named Marriage.

Four kids to her.
They are the thump impressions
of four nights.

Like any other girl,
she too boarded a flight and
got tamed in the nation of the autocrat.
She has passed in front of you
many times on many occasions.

It was on the day the blood
sullied the pond that
the tiny fish tickled her big toes.
She thus became the
insane script of the fish and the ponds.
To the fish that were slimy
she served up her virginity on their scales.

On the first night, she prayed for
the ones who were dead.
Like all fruitless prayers, they too
turned to ash.

She discovered adventurous women
sitting on sticky menstrual poetry.
She thought –
Should hijack at least one flight.
Crash-land it on women islands with
bellies unstitched.
Should lie between women
who stitched to life
the severed life cells
and drink from the mammary of the sky
till lips burst open.
Should kiss a thousand women and
wash away Buddha’s nudity.

She is now sitting right next to you.
Beyond her waist,
a country boat with a thatched roof is moored.


The woman who set fire to Spring

How many people do
a dead woman
bring home.

How many vehicles does
a dead woman
line up on the street
like coffins.

In how many minds does
a dead woman
become black plums
dripping the sap of silence.

Who set fire to spring
in the house that
the dead woman
locked up and left?

At what accursed moment
did the river
come to see the house
and the room where
rain seeped in from the roof.

Where people had been stacked
in way that nothing that got ridden
could be retrieved,
in bundles of the sari
and folds of the blouse
and the hallucinations of
the single mildewed bra,
she has hidden a sun
that smelt of mould.

Hidden behind a forest,
gathering together everything that
she could not touch in her life,
she had adorned death’s forehead
with a red ornamental dot.

Says it was she who whispered
the secrets of grandeur
to the lips that grew
on strychnine trees
in houses that smelt of
breast milk.

how calmly does
a dead woman
give a bath to the guests and
make the hosts sit with them and
turn them into
rolls of the same mat!


About the Author

Anna Mary Haskal is a bright new face among the women poets of Kerala (India). Her poems reflect the new directions of Malayalam poetry penned by Kerala’s women poets.

About the Translator

Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker N)’s poems in English have been published in many national and international online and print magazines. His poems have been translated into German and French. He has published three collections of poetry – ‘Architecture of Flesh’ (two editions)  ‘The Bullet Train and other loaded poems’  and ‘Kintsugi by Hadni’.    Ra Sh also translates literary works from Malayalam and Tamil into English.