Lakshmi Kannan is an eminent bi-lingual writer who writes in English and Tamil. She uses the pen-name of ‘Kaaveri’ for her writings in Tamil. A poet, novelist, short story writer and translator, she has published twenty books that include four collections of poems in English, several books of fiction in English translation as well as her original works in Tamil. She has given readings and talks in many national and international seminars and has published critical essays on gender sensitivity, on retrograde practices on women in the name of religion and custom. Lakshmi was the Indian participant in the International Writing Program at Iowa, USA; a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Canterbury at Kent, U.K., a British Council Visitor to the University of Cambridge, U.K., and a Sahitya Akademi Writer-in-Residence attached to the English Department of Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi.

The Salt in You, Mother

When the sky burns
singeing my hair,
when the scorched earth cracks open
baring its dry cavernous nothingness,
I return to you, my cool well,
I return to your healing waters
that never fail. They’re magical.
Around you, the grass is bleached
by the white rage of the sun,
around you, the mud is a hard cake
beyond you, the river is a sinuous dry curve
with unyielding sand dunes.
I get into the cool recesses of your well
to soak in the secretive reserves
of water.
I left the river bed once/many times
to wander under skies of another blue.
I roamed in lands where rivers flowed
without moistening me.
where oceans shimmered distantly,
where the banks offered no rest
to my world-weary limbs.
I returned to the smell of damp earth
in your waters.
They are sweet, with a hint of salt
that rounded the taste.
I came to bury myself in your well, mother
that restored me to myself.