Sujata Bhatt




Reading Sappho, I am Reminded of Chickpeas

Reading Sappho,
I am reminded of chickpeas
and the many uses
          my mother found for them.

Golden they were - 
and golden they still are.

To be honest, reading Sappho again
today I am reminded of my mother.

          girl sweetvoiced

And her voice was
 
             far more sweetsounding than a lyre
golder than gold

When I read:
not one girl I think
           who looks on the light of the sun
                       will ever
                       have wisdom
                       like this

it is my mother I think of.

Reading Sappho, my mother
has become younger and younger
in my mind until I see her walking
beside me when I was a child.
Reading Sappho, I am reminded
of the way my mother could wear purple,
       the way dark folds of silk
                 fell across her shoulders.

Reading Sappho, I am reminded of my mother’s hair
and the way she could wear flowers.

             with what eyes

I read - and I remember
with what eyes my mother had looked
on her world - with what eyes
she had read my face - 
with what eyes  she would speak to me.

‘Don’t cry,’ she told me
                      before she died.

for it is not right in the house of the Muses
            that there be lament
            this would not become us

If I said, ‘Grief, be gone!’,
                would it really go away?

Reading Sappho,
I am reminded of chickpeas
and the many uses
          my mother found for them.