I would photograph scars

I would photograph scars.

If only I had my old Nikon,
and a lion’s marigold skin,
I would camouflage there
to photograph scarred silence,

the silence of war.

A woman’s breast: Nipples
surrounded by dark circles
were exposed.
Her hair’s matted, bangles crushed.
This death had no witness.
This death required no explanation.

Beneath the half burnt cradle
Mother was sleeping her deepest sleep.
If there had been no railing,
baby could’ve escaped.


No new born walks.
Only Siddhartha Gautama did.

A young man was paralyzed: Spine was shot.

I would photograph his death.

When wounds are deep inside bones,
death is as calm as a dead saint.

My shutter blinked. Aimed.
Then shot the focus,
Shot the scar-like bullet
holes in school walls.

Children would rest in peace
That was the peace, literally.
I would photograph their scarred tiny feet
which were not allowed to rise up
in homeland’s soil.
But even hunter – gatherers
had had a moment
to root in where they wanted to.

In monsoons, gutters were full.
Then burst.

I would photograph water.
Why wouldn’t it burn when shelled?

People under legitimate barbarism:
some without limbs, some without eyes,
some without skin.

Some still breathing,
squatted motionlessly beside those resting bodies
as though keeping vigils.
When they kept the last one,
knowing that there would be nobody left
to keep vigils
for them, I would photograph the absence.

The end page of a poetry book. Abandoned, uncooked rice.
A fragment of spectacles. An empty sparrow cage.
Bits and pieces of love. Shattered clay pots. 

I would photograph blindness.

In blind sun,
scattered, scarred petals,
in every colour and shape,
would make new  undefined
colours and shapes.


© Subhadra Jayasundara