The king would send his men

In another time, in another life, they would call those embers, eyes.


Eyes that spoke in bold italics,  

brimming with kohl

kohl that wore silence,

bore songs like vapours

of your breath on linings

of silver that held clouds

of doubt in my breast-

the king would send his men.


Men to tie his queens to a role

between Mondays and Fridays,

wet days and dry days,

her days and my days,


But we were a country

with no borders, molten stories

with no frays

bare in our layers of wraps,

before the king scored with us

on torn jasmines of our tiara.


His men nailed our sway, in ways

they tore our faith but we flourished

as we wore cyanide inside us, no

we didn’t die, we mapped a country


We belong to each other, in another time, in another life.

About Barnali Ray Shukla
Barnali Ray Shukla is a writer and filmmaker. Her writing has featured in literary journals and anthologies. Her first book of poetry, Apostrophe, was published last month by RL Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts. Her debut feature-film as a writer-director, Kucch Luv Jaisaa, was released in May 2011. Her documentary, Liquid Borders, was invited to film-festivals across North America and Europe and across India. She is currently editing her second documentary film.

Leave a comment

15th Feb, 2018
The queens will feel happy to know that a reader felt that way.
S M M Ausaja
14th Feb, 2018
14th Feb, 2018
Thank you Vinita! This feels most special
Vinita Agrawal
14th Feb, 2018
Absolutely beautiful. Loved kohl that bore silence.