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 is a former software engineer who writes poetry. Her poems have appeared in Journal of New Jersey Poets, Kelsey Review, and Rat’s Ass Review. She was born in India and live in New Jersey.