Before I saw India

I was a banyan tree –
roots multiplying,
pampered leaves.
I would often sit and think
about the shape of things,
swastikas, shri yantras,
and how many shapes
are memorised and how
many are inherited.
I imagined the thousands
of shades of brown,
lying side by side
like sandstone cliffs,
and my skin’s first bath
in monsoon floods,
and how it must be,
just after the orange petals
of the marigold form,
there’s the belief
in something sacred.
I didn’t expect
the north-easterly wind,
barbed-wire fences,
starving wild horses.
I didn’t expect
to find nothing holy in the water,
not even my reflection,
no Vedic hymns hidden in leaves,
and digging up the soil
I realised the roots had rotted,
and the marigolds
were scentless.


Sophia Charalambous is a Greek Cypriot/Kashmiri journalist, writer, director and poet, born and raised in London. Her poetry has been published in South Bank Poetry Magazine, Mediterranean Poetry. She is currently working on her first pamphlet.