Book excerpt: Eucalyptus Sextet by Jane Bhandari

Title: Eucalyptus Sextet
Author: Jane Bhandari
Publisher: Bombaykala Books (November 2018)
Pages: 96


Eucalyptus Sextet

The Itch

I sipped love from your lips
and warmed my soul against your body,
then left you sleeping
while I wrote of love.
The best was that morning
flavoured with delight:
After a night
spent drinking your body
I arose to write it down
before I lost the savour
and you slept, not knowing
I had turned satisfaction
into a number of words.
If I had known
you would go so soon
I would have left writing
till later: but what I had
was an itch
that would not be scratched,
and still I write of it.


Comfort Chores

Something comforting in the routine
of domesticity: The way
one chore follows upon another:
The clothes to be ironed
the plates to be washed
the food to be cooked.
Shower, dress, and wait
for the telephone to ring.
A little music, the television
blaring inane laughter.
The sun shines steadily.
I go to the bank, the market,
meet a friend, read a book…
such a comfortable routine
to settle back into,
so boring, so alone.

Watch Out For Widows

I should say,
watch out for widows.
They are dangerous.

Needy for love,
we stalk
in an emotional jungle.

We sally forth
in our war paint;
women on safari.

I think I should have
a small lasso
in my handbag.

Red Meat

I have not eaten meat for so long.
Widows are not supposed to:
it inflames desire.
So they say.
A simple vegetarian diet
calms, promotes meditation.
So they say.
I must reflect on my sins,
renounce the loves of this life.
It is the custom.
Today I ate red meat
and then lay in bed
waiting for desire to happen.
But I felt the same as always.
It should have been instant
like coffee.
If I eat more meat
will it happen?
Perhaps the effect
will pile on effect
like pillows. Perhaps
one lapse was not enough.

Green Mangoes

Sometimes I was tempted by their youth,
those lovely young men I encountered
at the various bus-stops of my life.
But they are like green mangoes:
They will be ultimately unsatisfying,
unripe and tasteless. I prefer
the rich flavour of mature fruit,
and if it is starting to go soft
and a little rotten, who cares?
When one is missing some teeth,
the hardness of green mangoes
is not always what one desires.


Rondeau for The Brown-Eyed Man

Storm light fills the room
the colour of water tinged with peat
I look into your eyes
the colour of water tinged with peat
as storm light fills the room.


About the book:

With a wicked gleam in her eye, Jane Bhandari explores the predicament of the middle-aged widow who after the first shock of bereavement finds herself constantly dreaming about sex.

These poems are the conversations with her midnight longings, her fantasies and desires. Far from retiring to a nunnery, she embarks on a rollercoaster ride through uncharted territory, sprinkled with predators and Romeos and some genuinely nice guys. They are all treated with tart, irreverent wit: this is the revirginated merry widow having fun, albeit mixed with some disappointment. To find a prince, she says, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. And it’s delicious.


About the author:

Born in Edinburgh in 1944, Jane Bhandari has lived in India for over 50 years. She has published two collections of poetry – Single Bed and Aquarius – and two collections of short stories for children – The Round Square Chapatti and The Long Thin Jungle. She has been included in three Sahitya Akademi anthologies among others, and has edited her husband’s biography of his father, the late Madan Puri, My Father the Villain. She formerly co-ordinated Loquations, a Mumbai poetry reading group. This is her third volume of poetry.

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