Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 18
Spring, 2015

New Works

Namitha Varma

Winter in the Heart


From under her blankets, Sofia sensed the chill outside. She imagined the thick carpet of snow that would have covered the pathway by now. She thought how wonderful it would be to walk on that snow – crunch crunch crunch – and to feel the first snowflake on her cheeks.

downy soft white snow
dribbling from the clouds afar,
quiver down her spine

The nurse came in with her wheelchair. So what if she couldn't feel the snow under her feet – she could at least see the new white world. After an hour of ablutions – where she once again subjected herself to the humiliation of having another human brush her teeth, wash her, touch her privates, dress her up in silly colourful frocks much below her age – the nurse took her out. Years of submission had made Sofia patient, tolerant. Just like the winter tolerates autumn. She allowed herself to be pushed. She closed her eyes and prepared herself for this winter's gift.

Khionean touch
makes her tender cheeks crimson,
a warmth in her soul

Sofia loved winter. She felt solidarity with the season and understood its bitterness, its brutality. Winter was just like her body – cold, unresponsive, but reacting violently when you are unprepared. Spring and summer were too buoyant, too cheerful, too merciless on those who could not play with them. Spring and summer tolerated no weakness. But winter always stood by her. It never threw her out of its party.

the cold shake of hands
an indifference, boredom –
no facades to keep

When the door opened, the chilly breeze hit Sofia square on the face. No tantalising. She smiled and opened her eyes. There was snow everywhere. Powdery white, it had settled on every visible thing around her. This was the world that was made for her. She was the Snow Princess, the only one who could enjoy winter without wanting to curse it. The one who did not have to go anywhere in a car that could get stuck in snow. The one who would not be asked to rake up the snow. The one would not be asked to fix a broken heater. Exalted as she was, something wailed inside her heart.

alone, rejected,
a pawn in the hands of fate
no purpose to life

"We need to go back in. The cold isn't good for you, baby," the nurse said as she pushed the wheelchair back inside the house. The warmth inside felt raw, spiteful. She sighed and allowed the nurse to carry her back into her room, where she was put on bed and blankets pulled over her. She did not want the blankets. She hoped the nurse would look into her eyes and read her expression, but the nurse hated looking into her eyes. She'd overheard her tell the maid – "The baby, when she looks into my eyes, seems to be asking for help. I hate that look. I feel so... helpless. What can I do to relieve her agony?" Very philosophical and all that. But what Sofia would have loved is to have a silent camaraderie with her. Like in the movies, like the Ronan Keating song, you say it best when you say nothing at all. If only she could speak, she'd have told the nurse she loved her.

silence, eating up
all of her wakeful moments
strangles her bosom

She closed her eyes and let a teardrop roll down her cheek. Its warmth was infuriating.


Namitha Varma is a media professional based in Bengaluru, India. Her works have appeared in Sahitya Akademi's journal Indian Literature (May/June 2014), eFiction India (various issues), Hackwriters, MadSwirl, FIVE Poetry, A Story in 100 Words, 101 Words, Flash Fiction Magazine and Every Writer's Resource, among others. Her poem has been read out on NPR Radio as part of the National Poetry Month, via #TMMPoetry. She can be reached on twitter via @namithavr.