tea monsoon

tea monsoon

rivers of chai
stream down verdant hills

sweetly spiced tears
submerge millions
in a tea monsoon

a paradoxical wine
fills the cups

on a village farm road,
tractor meets ox-cart,
moves past women balancing woven baskets
on their heads

the silk sari shop shares
the same doorstep as
the old beggar woman
in faded blue cotton

an infant drinks buffalo milk,
in the market, shoppers pay
for coconut water, thirsty
for more than the simmering sun

bangles dangle, girls chatter;
a bejeweled bride swathed
in gold circles the fire, then cooks
lentils and rice and haggles
over eggplant in the market
for the next fifty years

the young servant girl
bequeathed to the old man
joins the river of tears
curry mixes with poison

her ashes scatter
across the world,
land in my cup, I strain
the tea grounds and toss
them in the trash

sweet mangos
can’t take away the bitter taste
of homelessness
and jasmine can’t quench
the smell of death

a billion veins bleed
ginger-spiced chai
filling cups at tea time

while curried waves lick
shores of sugar cane sand


Sharing this poem with Open Link Night #5 at d’Verse Poets Pub….click the link to read wonderful poetry from around the world or to add your own….

This poem is about a trip made to India about 10 years ago: the sights, sounds and stories from the visit that remain in my memory.

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38 Responses to tea monsoon

  1. This poem embodies India. I love the facts, the smells, the tastes woven throughout. This is my favourite poem of yours. Amazing…

  2. Irene says:

    Your poem is a beautiful way for you to chronicle such experience with India. It made me feel like I’ve been there myself! 🙂

  3. Claudia says:

    anna this is an awesome write with all the spices, smells and taste coming alive and jumping right from the page…i think you captured india quite well with all it’s beauty and ugliness…i was never in india (would love to go though) but my husband was a few years ago and he was drunk from the colors and impression of this land. he wasn’t there as a tourist but with our pastor to visit different churches and a children’s home, so he got a pretty authentical picture – enjoyed your poem from the first to the last line

  4. brian says:

    love how you engage us in a beautiful world.filled with smells and sounds then flip it on us and expose the underbelly…i am sad for the young girl…for the homelessness…

    • Anna @ waysidewordgarden says:

      That story of the girl– it is a true story. I met the girl when I was there, and a few years later, heard what happened. Tragic and heartbreaking.

      • brian miller says:

        oh my…that adds an whole other emotional level to it…was glad to re-read this one in that light…thanks for being a part of the magic that is dverse…smiles.

  5. Pat Hatt says:

    A wonderful play on the senses, really captures the readers attention, nice!

  6. Heaven says:

    I love love the images you drew here… very vivid of the smells, sounds and despair of the young girls in India.

    This is a visual delight:

    sweet mangos
    can’t take away the bitter taste
    of homelessness
    and jasmine can’t quench
    the smell of death

  7. tashtoo says:

    There is such a contrast of light and dark! Love the title! All my senses have been engaged by your words, all my emotions, all of my heart. Well done!

  8. hedgewitch says:

    A very vivid painting of the land and even more, the women. You cover a lot of human ground here fluently–I esp liked the imagery in the sixth and eighth stanzas–you put the reader right there, in the moment.

  9. brenda w says:

    Lush images bring India alive. The last three stanzas are magnificent. Wowza.

  10. This is a delightful evocation of India.. chai tea is my favourite hot beverage, and love all the sounds and colours that you have included to flavour the brew.

  11. Right away, I had a sense of where I was. You did a great job creating a sense of place, Anna.

    • Anna @ waysidewordgarden says:

      Thank you for that comment! I’ve been working on that in particular, as well as writing more in the present tense!

  12. I would like to visit a place like that, so vibrant, even through the sadness there must be much laughter there.

    I too was “right there” in this.

    Brilliant write.

  13. expatinCAT says:

    Your choice of words really drew me into the poem with all its smells, images and colours and the way the poem begins to project a much starker reality in the last four or five stanzas. // Peter.

  14. jenneandrews says:

    Intense, beautifully realized poem conveying powerful feelings without sentimentalizing them– great write. xxxj I’m at http://parolavivace.blogspot.com …xxxj

  15. Poetic Soul says:

    I feel like I’ve taken an India Journey just by reading your clear an beautiful poem

  16. sweet mangos
    can’t take away the bitter taste
    of homelessness
    and jasmine can’t quench
    the smell of death

    The rot within the wonder is so well captured in your truthful look at India. Thank you.

  17. your words paint a beautiful scene to be enjoyed.

    a job well done.

  18. brian says:

    wanted to swing by and say thank you for the wonderful birthday wishes today…smiles.

  19. janehewey says:

    vividly beautiful.

  20. I remember this piece vividly, exquisitely drawn!

  21. ayala says:

    Lovely memories well penned. I hope to visit India one day 🙂

  22. I love all the delicious scents woven throughout this, even though it is a sorrowful piece.

    “tea monsoon
    rivers of chai”

    “a paradoxical wine
    fills the cups”

    “sweet mangos
    can’t take away the bitter taste
    of homelessness
    and jasmine can’t quench
    the smell of death”

    “a billion veins bleed
    ginger-spiced chai”

    “while curried waves lick
    shores of sugar cane sand”

Thank you for your comments, much appreciated!!

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