Srividya Sivakumar – WE ICWP Prize ’20. Shortlisted for WE Kamala Das Award ’20


Invisible breasts
Hiding behind hijabs
Held unforgiven by underwired demicups
Stuffed into silk satin corsets
Disciplined by high-back blouses
Limited by camisoles
Fettered by ‘free the nipple’ t-shirts
Swaying in the inbuilt bra and string them up cholis
Invisible breasts
Hidden behind a lover’s mouth
Clutched as life by a man’s fingers
Bound by leather in a mask
Clamped by clips and kisses
Invisible breasts
Blue green veins under the skin
Cigarette ash on the curve
Underboob tattoos for the win
Blood milk as is deserved
Invisible breasts
But not ignored
Stared at
Pinched and groped
Sucked on
Held together tight
Slept on as though a right.
Invisible breasts
But not really.
Visible invisible breasts.

Every Day’s A Celebration

 “Happy Women’s Day,” he says to her as she cooks his breakfast, packs his lunch, picks up the groceries, cuts the vegetables, does the laundry, folds the clothes, puts them away, helps with homework, helps with medicines, calls the plumber, calls the carpenter, cleans the bathrooms, scrubs the toilet bowls, dusts the house, waters the plants, makes the casserole, bakes the birthday cake, wakes up early, goes to sleep late.

 “Happy Women’s Day,” he says to her as she breaks stones, carries loads on her head, on her back, on her shoulders, in her heart. Coughs over an open fire, waits for the dark, to take a bath, to piss, to shit, to change her blood-soaked rag. Bears another child whom she will not know, bears her man grunting and burrowing into her, bears the slaps and words and looks and taunts.

 But yes, Happy Women’s Day.

Dr. Srividya Sivakumar is a teacher, editor, columnist and speaker. She has two collections of poetry- The Blue Note (Writers’ Workshop, 2012) and the critically-acclaimed The Heart is an Attic (Hawakal, 2018). Srividya is the co-editor of The Shape of a Poem, the Red River Book of Contemporary Erotic Poetry, released this year. Her weekly column, Running on Poetry, appeared in The Hindu’s MetroPlus for close to three years. Her column, Srividya Speaks Poetry currently appears in the online literary journal, Narrow Road. Srividya Sivakumar is a Best of the Net nominee(2018) . She was shortlisted for the WE Kamala Das Poetry Award, 2020, and longlisted for the Deepankar Khiwani Memorial Prize, 2021.