Julie-ann Rowell

Two Poems by Julie-ann Rowell

in Poetry

Indra at Land’s End, Mumbai


I was burning on the promenade

when Indra appeared to me, no glaze

of sweat on his wide forehead.

For a moment he looked fierce,

even without a sword, or hook or anything

I might usually recognise him by. I glanced

away, but he would not be ignored,

carrying a shoe-cleaning box, his dark face

adorned with a leaking eye, his dusty soles

bare, his precious jacket torn,

graceful in his twisting walk. I wanted

to pray to him for thunderous rain

and put a lid on the heat that came everywhere

with me, but then he was only

a shoe-man with his box of tricks, raising

his hand to stop me, in a quest for five rupees.

He turned into a god again when I said no.


Sita at the Lake Palace


I arrive at the small island palace late,

with my head screaming from the car ride


south to Udaipur; all day the pain

has tormented me like a white monkey


scratching my brain. Sita comes to me,

and for once I am not afraid to strip –


letting my body be in the space

behind the screen, with the silk cloth


soaked in jasmine. At home, in the city,

I never walk naked, always lock the bathroom door,


close blinds rather than curl them open,

wear too many layers, even in the sun.


It is Sita with her light touch, urging me

to lie down in the perfumed shade.


Gentle fingers trace my spine, cool

on my shoulders, arms, along my calves,


thighs, pulling me through the knot I had

become, making an opening for the heart.


Julie-ann Rowell’s pamphlet Convergence (Brodie Press) won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her collection Letters North was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011. Her latest collection, Voices in the Garden, about Joan of Arc, is published by Lapwing Publications, Belfast. She runs a poetry workshop in Bristol.

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