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Kalahandi Poems

by Kuhu Joshi
(New Delhi, India)


The red earth is so red.


The women
are strong-boned, with bones
that stick to their muscles
their brown dark brown, I would say earth-

colored muscles. But the earth is red
and they are not. The earth
it seems has many many colours.


The fields roll yellow
and sparkle light-green
like grass in crayon drawings.


I am lighter-skinned and taller,
better built in some ways, worse
in others. From farming and babies
and goats and chicken, these women

have different very different bodies. Angled
at angles my laptop-desktop spine
cannot. The slick smoothness of their skin
to my Delhi-dust cheeks.

No one here has acne. The very
very old women have folds
in their skin. And three nose rings,

two on either side and one
on the septum. The only things made of
gold in this village.


The huts are red baked
red painted red matted red sweeped
red built with fingers
red smoothed with palms
red from the earth

they are walking on. Lives in this perimeter
of 5 kilometres. White teeth
grinning after a marriage ritual.
There is a party shelter
thatched with banana leaves

and bamboo leaves?
I’m not sure which leaves
but leaves that are large and sturdy
like limbs. Leaves a canopy

over four sticks. In the middle sits
a rooster, head-chopped and roasted.
And rice, and fruit
that looks like berries and peaches.


A balding man with hollow eyes, comes
and touches my arm. Asks me to join

the feast, offers me his drink.
A brown pine-wood brown bottle

made of glass. Smiles
the most innocent smile that any man
ever has. And fear

rumbles up my belly, while my brain
tries to remind me
this man, he is simple and happy.


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Nov 08, 2019
by: Your Name:Kuhu

Thankyou very much for your encouraging comments!

Nov 07, 2019
by: Your Name:

Very well written. Vivid imagery and very nice choice of words. Keep it up, Kuhu!

Nov 03, 2019
Kuhu’s visit to Kalahandi
by: Shobha C Prasad

Simplicity of Kalahandi ..

the way Kuhu has put it..
It’s intoxicating !

Nov 03, 2019
by: Ratn Ramani

What a lovely, earthy poem! It captures the essence of simplicity so far removed from the city life we are used to. It took me to the several trips to that area.

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