Culture & Society

Poems: ‘The Mill Man’s Magic’ And ‘Spinning Wheel’

Through 100 pages of 'Poetry as Evidence', Outlook presents a selection of poems and verses that have moved us, and we feel these serve as evidence of our bleak times and lives. The poems below are the 50th and 51st from the series.

Placards displaying slogans during a protest in Ranchi, Jharkhand in 2022 by tribal communities

The Mill Man’s Magic

The early morning mill siren,
And my sleep used to go kaput.
A dulcet ebullient baby,
I woke up in cries, and tears.
That made my mother too, retire from her slumber,
Light stokes on my back,
With mellifluous bustle,
Taking me back into silent dream,
Even so, I never slept.

In a dim faded light,
I saw my begetter, coiffure his hair,
Costumed in his uniform,
A peck telling me,
I’m off to the mill.

Yarns he spun, of infinite length,
Gossamer like,
Then woven into cloth,
That rich adorned in.

I remember though,
He never had a share,
Of that fabric,
Same shirt, each single day,
Washed every Wednesday,
With patches stitched,
To hide the rend beneath.

Nonetheless, content he was,
Smiling, absolved of all pain,
An inspiration I admired,
Lying there naked,
Covered in a piece of cloth,
My sire wove in his mill.

Amol Redij, Maharashtra

(Amol Redij is an Indian writer and poet. He crafts his words in English, Hindi, and Marathi. With three poetry collections under his belt, his verses have found a home in various anthologies and e-magazines. Beyond pen and paper, he delves into the world of cinema, contributing to three short films in the areas of script supervision, direction, and production management.)

Spinning Wheel

The spinning wheel was old
It bent and turned askew
Mother took out its spindle
and kept it in the barn

sometimes we fire cooked ears of corn on the spindle
there was no wood for fire
father took the pestle
and straightened the skewed spinning wheel

the season of corns is over now
the spindle has turned askew too
the wandering blacksmiths do not come to the village anymore
we would have got the spindle sharpened otherwise

Mother said: what use it is without the spinning wheel
She took the spindle, bent it further and dug it in the wall

Nowadays, the milk container hangs on it

—Translated from Punjabi  by Jasdeep Singh

(Jagdeep Singh is a translator, film writer, and technology worker based in Mohali, Punjab. He has written dialogues and scenarios for Panjabi cinema and theatre.)

Jagdeep Jawaharke, Punjab

(Jagdeep Singh Jawaharke is a published poet from Punjab who takes pride in his real identity: Ittan di bhatti tey kam karan wala.)