Maithreyi Nandakumar

Xanadu with Ms De Souza


Into Xanadu came Kubla Khan,

said Ms De Souza.
So did Olivia Newton John, I said.
Friend’s nose quivered
as we settled down with the herd.

Another word for incense?
asked the teacher. 
Perfume, I said, to please her
Ms De Souza shuddered,
fragrance would be so much better.

At 18, we were at Stella Maris College,
with all the decorum that we could manage.
The woman wailed for her demon lover,
but we were deep in conversation,
Oblivious to the maid and her dulcimer.

Was it her George Michael haircut, 
or John McEnroe sending her into raptures,
perhaps it was Imran Khan

who’d made me swoon,

to cause all that consternation.

Faces turned up to us in the top row,
we realised we had become the show.
Sharing one last giggle, we finally came to grips
when we heard her shocking dictum,
“Put your fingers to your lips!!”


I wrote this some years ago and brought it back to existence for the Lansdown poetry workshop. As students of Maths and Science, we enjoyed poetry and literature, but sometimes didn’t take it very seriously …

Santhome Cathedral, Chennai

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