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 carrying woven baskets

on their heads


the old beggar woman 

in faded blue cotton

shares the same doorstep

as the fancy sari shop


an infant drinks buffalo milk;

in the market, shoppers pay

for coconut water, thirsty

for more than the same 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

the shores of sugar cane sand

(I wrote this in 2011, soon after hearing a true story of a young servant girl I had met in India – a teenager- who committed suicide by drinking poison because  her parents had arranged a marriage for her to a sixty year old man.)




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