Yamini Pathak


Grihasta, Seeking the Lotus

my practice:
fold     clean  cook
dust    dry     try my damndest
not to raise my voice         fail
beg pardon  forgive
myself one more time        buy

shoes on sale                   squander
hugs and kisses      pay
taxes just in time     neglect
to pay attention

to library books gone walkabout
and     trickster chocolate-chip cookies masquerading as lunch
and     pale-pink earthworms glistening in the wake of rain

The lotus blooms in the sludge     the iridescence
of the spider-web at the window

must be swept away
but not too soon

Salvation lies in a pot of mint leaves watered afresh




Have You Waited like the Peacock, for the Rains?

Have you heard the temple bells
offerings made to the breeze                 inhaled  
wet jasmine mingled with smoke?

Have you sat on the steps           watched evening turn
into a dark-skinned Goddess                 her million eyes
twinkling in an indigo sky?

Did you stand behind a pillar                  watch the busyness
of people? Walk alone after nightfall straining
in the silence for the sound of your name?

Have you rubbed the grit of desert sand
against too-tight skin wishing
it would slough right off?

Have you ever wanted something
so nameless it grows into a claw
and scoops hollows in your belly?




Dawn, and the koel-bird
calls, insistent over the rusted clang
of a sleepless city

I hunt for her, seeking for
sunlit courtyards, once spilling
baby fruit and petals

but the koel nurses her wounds unseen,
in secret chapels of stained-glass silences,
rain-damp, and scented with eucalyptus



On Moving

We decide to buy a new house

because, like a set of well-worn clothes

our house is now a little tight under the armpits

a little frayed at the seams

When people visit, I’m ashamed of the odd things

that appear where they don’t belong

like a stout branch in a corner of the kitchen

brought in against all injunctions by a boy who believes

in the religion of sticks and stones

and the rampant books that grow like ivy

from under the bed, across the floor, up the walls

and onto the bathroom counter

A hermit crab might ask

What is a house but a body?

I ask, what is a body

but a garment prone to soil?

I tell myself

a move is nothing to fear

You die a little death, extinguish

and re-incarnate the lamps anew





Yamini Pathak, born in India and living in New Jersey, is a former software engineer who writes poetry. Poems have appeared in Journal of New Jersey Poets, Kelsey Review, and Rat’s Ass Review.