October 11, 2023

“Taking Daddy’s Photograph,” Poetry by Gopi Kottoor

“Taking Daddy’s Photograph,” Poetry by Gopi Kottoor
Taking Daddy's Photograph 

Daddy’, I said,  

     ‘Stand by those shoe flowers, 

     there are so many of them blooming this morning’. 

          Daddy took a step back.  

          There is a strange beauty, 

in the hibiscus sheen, when, from the fresh green 

          the hundred shoe flowers mount red. 

          Daddy now looked like he was some God 

          coming to me in a dream of sacrifice. 

        He puffed hard at his cigarette, 

          its red butt putting all the hibiscuses 

              to shame. 

         Looking on into the camera eye, Daddy said,  

 ‘Be careful, son, 

    The sun is still in front of you. Don’t let 

in too much light’. I remember, 

          I knelt down, so the lens could take the 


          holding him right. 

          Dad smiled, as though in the camera eye 

Lay his only woman. 

          And in that stained  

Hibiscus silence, 


built a riverside chapel  around us. 


A Morning Rose  

There was one in my small terrace garden today. 

Garden, if you could call it a garden, 

A few pots, a touch of a bright  

Periwinkle drying, 

One sad looking sunflower 

And a bouquet of crimson 


Small blooms, as though a little shy 

Of their own blossoming. 

I haven't seen  

The butterflies hover here, 

Though there have been 

Many midnight executions 

Of waking seeds giving birth to their first leaves. 

And now I see the one small rose, white as the side hood 

Of a nun, 

Bending down in thankfulness, 

To the sun  


A resurrected Christ in the morning skies. 


Driving at 2.A.M. 

The macadam stretches brittle, rain-polished.          Sudden light neonates the road studs,  

Jeweling them in their hundreds,                             as darkness feline, fans over, lactating.  


Home Front, One Morning  

The sun skis down                                                      a shaft of cobweb                                      laminating a spider,                                           closely examining                                                     its insect juice. 

Clouds courier                                                        the rest of unfallen rain                                        over mountain tops                                                   in neat bouquets,                                        delivering them to thirsting valleys instantly. 

Flowers fall away like faces off another youth,     of  another time.  

Wind-tapped,                                                    leaves move as quiet alphabets                    among the keyboard of lined trees, 

As the first of the priest-storks                       lands upon the pew dust in Bible finish,                               elegant, among the rising prayers                          of wet morning dew-grass. 


Bird on a Word  

Bird on a word  

Hopping over a sentence,  

She has come  

To take back something  

She forgot  

Searching an inflorescence  


She left a feather, the shining one. Taste the fruit, I said, Go on.  

No, not that, the coloured one.   

Word, waiting for your bird,  

To hop on a sentence  

And hide among the leaves of a stanza in the storm. Here she is.  

Every part, an art.  

Now she has come,  

She’s searching every petal. Must be the cataract of the late mist.  

Take your time, I said,  

She can’t see  

What she missed  

What she left there,  

Or why she came back;  

Bird on a word  

That returns to the moon,  

Her liquid memory  

Trembling every page,  

As leaves  

The night folds to late sleep  

Upon rain trees.  


Moon Metaphor  

The dark has its share of brooding, and firelights.  

All night,  

Caught in the still fur of leaves   

The moon metaphors  

A haunting brilliance of arrested light chained to the star skies.  

I’ve come this far  

And I must not turn,  

Though an angel flames  

In the burning bush.  

Slowly my thought  

Returns to you  

Like a lone meerkat to its home  

To find its nest gone.  


Taking Daddy's Photograph

About Gopi: His seminal work “Father, Wake Us in Passing” won him a Poetry Residency in Augsburg, Germany where he read his poetry along with his German translator. He attended the MFA Poetry program of the Texas State University. His New and Selected poetry The Painter of Evenings appeared in 2018 (Paperwall). His latest poetry collections Swan Lake and Descent have just been released. He edited A New Book of  Indian Poems in English and Living Poetry:  Seven Contemporary Indian Poets in English from Kerala. His plays include life portrayals of the Nationalist poet Subramania Bharati, and Devasahayam, the layman from Kerala who was recently conferred sainthood. For a while, Gopi Kottoor reviewed  poetry for The Hindu Literary Supplement and was guest columnist for Manorama Online. He is based in Kerala.

You can view more of is work here.

He edits the online journal Chipmunk

Taking Daddy's Photograph
#childhood#gopi kottoor#photography#poetry
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