Sharanya Manivannan was born in India in 1985, and grew up in Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Her first book of poems was Witchcraft (2008), which The Straits Times described as sensuous and spiritual, delicate and dangerous and as full as the moon reflected in a knife. Her poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Drunken Boat, Softblow, Killing The Buddha, Full of Crow and Pratilipi; a personal column, "The Venus Flytrap, appears in The New Indian Express. She was the recipient of the Lavanya Sankaran Fellowship for 2008-2009.
You slid a pin into my body and
brooched me at a distance, a dwarf
star snared against a night on the
other side of the universe, imagining
yourself a lapidary, setting diamond
upon obsidian, holding your tongue
so that the hooks in your mouth
would not fall. You believe you sleep
the sleep of the guiltless, but it is only
the sleep of the damned, and on the
day when you wake to the sight of me,
ascending before dawn, a planet blue-
burning and beautiful, it is the stones
of your eyes that will sear you, it is your
pins you will swallow, javelined by the
serration of every word you left unsaid.
Lightning Over Dindivanam Highway
Somewhere along this trail is
the place where you lost me, and the part
of me that did not outlive that burial.
Even in rear view, I can no more calculate your
movements than I can fathom
the distance at which you have held me.
The stars small mirrors through gauze,
giving away nothing -
in my head, memory
a many-winged wildness.
Wherever you are tonight, perhaps it runs
through you also, the thing that
runs through me when I throw open the door
and step into the storm, the wet of the world
upon my body's own electricity. Perhaps
it blinds you for a moment too, splinters
down to your bones perhaps it floods
you with a certain, anamnestic shock.
that the wildfire in your belly was
the only known source of light
in the universe.
The darkness you found me in
was only the penumbra of the
darkness you would
plunge into me.
What gravity you wielded then.
I came to you not knowing that
the light you held
within yourself was also
the light you withheld
from the world.
There was already darkness in me.
And if not light itself, then
afterglow, and though scorched
forever with the analemma
of your passage,
in the cosmos of my body,
always room for
Keeping The Change
In the French Quarter I wrote you
love poems in yellow ochre,
unscrolled them like a trellis
of bougainvillea, paper
petals too intense to abandon,
too fragile to keep. How many
shots of thirty rupee citrus vodka
could we get for a ten dollar
bill? Everywhere we went you
told them to keep the change,
placing it palm-down back on
the table, so when I picked up
your hand to kiss it after, I
smelt metal on your skin.
I don't know what you came
here looking for, but it
wasn't in the cobblestone,
or in the rock-bordered
coastline, it wasn't in the
prayer-dome or in anything
you filled those palms
with when I lifted those
dresses I bought on those
streets over my head,
needing you the way a vine
of thorns needs a spine.
And this much later, a
coffer in my memory still
rattles - your coins too
cheap to care for, too heavy
But I have a weakness
for copper and weight, and
I have collected them all,
handfuls of ore and residue.
They function like paperweights,
burdening the wisps of things,
their threats to drift away.