My Striped Boyfriend


A poem by Madhuri

After admiring a striped cat on our evening walk; then getting into a conundrum when I wanted, half-desultorily, to wear a saree to a 4th of July party; and had donned it expecting he’d love it; and the donning complex with pleating and tucking and jewel-hanging and bangling. But he thought that, though it looked beautiful, it would make him feel conspicuous, since he is shy. I wore it; he was so upset he cried in the truck on the way there, and I was so bewildered, divided, touched, and simply determined; that I had to do a lot of meditating, processing, and empathing later. At the party, though, nothing was actually awkward and the saree proved to be a friendly conversation piece briefly, where conversation was idle and inconsequent among the jolly fat massings and porch-swingings ancd eatings and fanning-themselves of folks in shorts and pedal pushers and t-shirts. Chris says he did not actually suffer.

striped cat by Madhuri

Recently we were cats
Shadow-needing, chary of light
We had to hide and put up our
Blinds, our shutters, stripes
Moving down us like rippled blades
Of leaf-grass, sharp flickered riffle
Of breeze through woods

Recently we were just like that
Your people came on a ship,
In brown clothes
They waited for acceptance or
Turning back, or quarantine
Kindly, tired men passed them through
Your people
Come from the rocky greensward
And the rain –

Safer to hide in brown clothes
Striped like a mouser
Shielding the heaped passion
Of life-fire determined
To grow –

Poem and illustration by Madhuri, 5th July 2012, Weston

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