BUTTON RABBIT Poem by Jayant Kaikini

Jayant Kaikini

Jayant Kaikini

Gokarna, Karwar, Uttar Kannada, Karnataka / India


A sour-faced tempo is stranded on the road
On its back the burden of a household
A metal trunk heaved on top tilts
Its belly squashed, a cloth bundle wilts
Legs folded, the cot stands in a yogic trance
On an ink-stained table lies a hemispherical rice bowl
Carrying a ladle deposited in a hurry
Loose pincers laced with tea powder
A calendar Shakuntala rolled up in past glory
Fastened to her belly,
Pins and rusted needle with a pleat of thread
A rolled-up bed and a sleeping cupboard
A crow flying in a reclined mirror

All would have sprung to life
If a well or an oven were within reach
As you ask if anybody's around, lo,
Reclining on an upturned bucket
A stone-still button rabbit keeps vigil
On a black cloth behind a glass frame
Written in white thread, Kusuma, Kausalya . . .
And a myriad such names like monsoon flowers

Is she around? Where did she go?
She who threaded button after button
Wiping her nose during a sighing noon
Who slipped into the backyard when somebody came home
Hid herself from the visitor
Who came to see her younger sister
Slipped her brother's shirt over Amma's petticoat
Called on homes near and far
To make papads and steal a meal
Where is she now?

A needle missing in the dark
Somewhere in a crevice a ball of thread falls loose
Oh, how many buttons there are in the market
Slowly, the rabbit breaks out of the glass
Cranes its neck to look here and there
Sniffs at all the household items
And leaps out of the tempo into the street
In search of its creator

Jayant Kaikini

Jayant Kaikini

Gokarna, Karwar, Uttar Kannada, Karnataka / India
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