1. Ode to Grocery Shopping
how beautiful it is
to go grocery shopping:
walk past boxes of peach and plum,
tumbling over one another
in pebbles of yellow and red.
survive a mountain of oranges,
sitting like suns glowing in their aisle.
pick a few herbs tied together
by someone's careful hands.
sniff perfume of mint and tarragon.
feel the dirt they've grown from,
still clinging onto their stalks.
how beautiful it is to
go grocery shopping:
bag full of what the earth and sun
have grown for you alone.
2. Salt & Pepper
salt and pepper
our freedom and our wealth
on the dinner table
i come from a long line of angry women
dots of black pepper on the side of our tongues
there is silence when we talk.
i come from a long line of women
whose fingers were thin, and long
and wrote sentences sharp as knives
clasped their enemies by the neck, i told you
there was silence when we spoke.
my great grandmother
smelled of opinions and walked with a hunch
folding in on herself and still loud enough for all the men to sit down when she entered.
when i asked her, achamma - what is it that makes you so youthful?
(she was 98 and had colour still in her cheeks)
she patted her own concaved back and said
it makes me see the world from the bottom up
it makes me remember how the world should be - trees as sky and full of goodness
when i asked her, achamma - will i ever be as strong as you?
(she was 98 and did 20 push ups before breakfast)
she picked out a green chili, and said
this pepper, this is kanthari - it is the size of a fingernail and will make the eyes of grown men water
so do not doubt your strength even now, when your bones are growing
trust that you will make them regret the bite.
this is how i know that people who are fighters
are not always foaming at the mouth
that they are elegant until the world demands a change in tone
i come from a long line of warriors
of women who have worked too hard
for too long to let me live out my days amongst the linens
of women who have had their teeth slowly give up on them
and have yet to stop ending the debate
so on the days when i am staring at my mother’s linkedin profile
and wondering whether i will ever learn half the skills she has taught herself from nothing
i stick my tongue out in front of the mirror
and remember there is always heat in my words
a way in my walk
a forest fire in my gaze
it is then that i know, with heavy heart
that i cannot escape this
that there is no excuse for my own power - whether i like it or not.
Kaav Ranj is a spoken word artist and poet whose works have been featured in publications across the world (Collision Literary Magazine, Cornell Haiku, etc) as well as India (The Alipore Post, ArtRefurbish, Delhi Poetry Slam).
Her work typically engages with themes of colonisation, feminism, and ecology.