Babitha Marina Justin – Ekphrastic Challenge


Ekphrastic Challenge
by Babitha Marina Justin

In three hours, I have to put my
finger on a scar to make sense of it.
I have to write sitting in an Indian town 
away from the centre, and woo words 
to conjure a whirlwind of meanings.

There’s a white lady who closes
her eyes on me, this is portent
of bad news, I persist with
my brownness. My spider-webbed 
fingers sprawl over the unsure keys,

I want to versify intelligently
on a painting, but my two eyes
subvert images into a bird-whale of
skepticism. I chose American spellings

over my British hangover; a squirrel 
chirps in the background reminding 
that two boys will sprawl out of 
their bed, demanding an eternal motherhood.

Perhaps, the woman in the painting
accepts herself with half-closed eyes,
is it orgasm or Pieta; hair-blowing in the wind, 
a half-halo jam-packed with patterned antiquity?

Her heart and ribs are painted over 
her half-baked perfection, she has too
much to hold and is human after all.
I worry about the missed-out meanings,

those colours, the childish stars and buds;
my day breaks without warning,
I leave the picture to solve itself
through plastic and perfume bottles,
a sea of chequered sun-light blotches. 


Babitha Marina Justin is a  poet, writer, and artist from Kerala, South India. Her poems have been published in many international journals and she has three collections of poems, Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills, and I Cook My Own Feast. She writes from the inner recesses of womanhood, weaving the local, personal experience with the universal and political.