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Kutti Revathi

Kutti Revathi is an influential writer in the feminist space in India. Some of her poems, such as Mulaigal (Breasts), have achieved iconic status all over the world. She has edited a magazine called Panikkudam, a literary quarterly for women’s writing. Trained in Siddha medicine, Revathi is also a lyricist and filmmaker and engages actively in issues of caste and violence against women.


Breasts are bubbles, rising In wet marshlands I watched in awe — and guarded — Their gradual swell and blooming At the edges of my youth’s season Saying nothing to anyone else, They sing along With me alone, always: Of Love, Rapture, Heartbreak To the nurseries of my turning seasons, They never once forgot or failed To bring arousal During penance, they swell, as if straining To break free; and in the fierce tug of lust, They soar, recalling the ecstasy of music From the crush of embrace, they distill The essence of love; and in the shock Of childbirth, milk from coursing blood Like two teardrops from an unfulfilled love That cannot ever be wiped away, They well up, as if in grief, and spill over

…under close surveillance

By and by, the rivers forget

Their serenades to the heart of this earth

Buildings congeal and harden

Like the stone relief

of an ancient fresco

Drops of human blood

cost less and less these days

Women’s behinds and querulous breasts

are always watched closely

Even the pretty shape of my small crack

is probed with advanced instruments

Homosexuals are hiding inside

the city’s glass-enclosed rooms

On the suspicion that a vestige of life

might still linger, even after burial,

bodies are exhumed

Adult games that children play

are always under surveillance

Translucent lashes of light

are peeled away from green vegetation

Everyone is losing

their personal, intimate secrets

Light prowls like a cat

Opening doors without a sound,

Light puts its hand out (diffidently)

to check whether it’s still raining

Then, finding the rains gone,

Light spreads its wares of shadows

all over the woods; then climbs and perches

above the tent’s facade, to gaze idly at the world

Everywhere on earth, the pretty colours of a cat’s body

When its shadow has begun

to devour itself, Light quickly

descends from the tree; and then leaps

straight to a lamp’s small flame in the alcove

Seated on the back of the night that stands

rigid and erect as a fortress,

Light draws in and makes its own

the great Light of love’s union,

through the moon’s wide eye

Also see:

Kutti Revathi’s poems in Poetry International (2007)


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