POETRY : Agua and other poems by Jina Dcruz



“Agua”, my two year old muttered
To my bewildered mono lingual brain.
"Izz blue Amma", he babbled on
Staring at the colorful “zapatos”
Of his playmate

They speak in colors
With languages of their own creation
Seeking yet not selfish
Oozing the relentless torrent of wonder
Ebbing like a stream of consciousness

I shift around as my confusion brews up
Fogging up my reflection in the mirror
Of a mother who fails often
In an alien land with quaint norms
Staring at the colorful “zapatos”
Of his playmate

She picks up her water bottle
And passes it on
With a smile, only a child can conjure
As if it's obvious
That best things in life need to be shared
Like water and love!

*In Spanish, Agua is water and zapatos are shoes.

The Lunchbox

I distinctly remember
That tantalizing smell
Of opening my lunchbox
That unexplained feeling
Of mystery and curiosity
Taking me to Amma’s childhood and Appa’s adventures
Scent of spices
Fiery and laced with love
Transporting you like a magic carpet
To worlds within a steel dabba.

But these days I dread the reveal
Of spices and the riot of colors
Only to watch the pungency
Wrinkle up my friends' faces
Eyes filled with accusation
Of a crime, I didn't know I committed
I suddenly know
How it must be to be an earthling who lands on Mars
And why superheroes are lonely
Pondering over what it could have been
Gulping down the idli and sambar
Neatly parceled off in a rectangle frame with circle boxes
Much like
A square peg in a round hole

If only my lunchbox
Didn't mark me apart
I wish I could rinse away
The differences and
Doggy bag  my "culture"
To a PB&J sandwich
With chutney on the side.

Monkey Bar

We walk hand in hand,
Mother and son
Each with lofty purposes of our own
We see them too
Another mom-son duo
In tandem approaching
The monkey bar.

Our neighborhood park
is where we meet, where we exchange furtive looks
That secret ritual every parent performs
To build a circle of protection around their progeny
Dark spaces exist in the safest of places
Separated by the hues of our skin
Wary and timid, the moms look away
Zooming in on faraway horizons
Avoiding small talk
Awkwardly sneaking in glances
To score each other
On a rating scale reserved for mothers
Either pass or fail
And nothing in between

While the kids unaware and unbothered
Spring aboard, flip back, and hang in
Bubbling with unbridled joy
Sprint ahead, pull up and fall down
Chiming in bells of laughter
Conquering the mountain of differences
Climbing atop the monkey bar
Bridging the gulf of uncomfortable silences
Making the world a smaller, cozier, happier place

Hard to ignore
Now the invisible thread of maternal bond
Two eyes meet
Silent pleasantries exchanged
Lauding the sisterhood of motherhood
Understood and accepted without judgment
A secret creed
Telling untold stories of
Fatigue, familiarity, and fear
We part with a smile
Leaving our biases and inhibitions
Hanging it to dry in the monkey bar.

About the Poet  

Jina Dcruz lives in Atlanta, is a Health Scientist at her day job and enjoys various creative outlets in her spare time. She writes poetry and explores food history to escape from existential quandaries.


  1. These poems are so beautiful and deep. I could feel the agua and glanced at my shoes; I could smell your lunchbox and the smells of spices; you transported me to my local park and remembered sharing the sisterhood of motherhood with other moms... SO proud to call you my friend. You are an amazing poet, and a better mom and friend. Love, Fatima

  2. Jina, all poems are so expressive but Monkey Bar really struck a chord. You've nailed it how wary we are of, and how we warm up to fellow moms!

  3. Wonderful Jina. I enjoyed reading all three, but my favourite is Aqua. Keep writing.

  4. Excellent poems Jina.. loved them.. do write more...


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