Speak The Mag


For the women who lost their children in the Indian Ocean tsunami. 

Emma Hellyer
September 8

I feel your hands on us when I wrap your sister
round me. We do not let our children wander now.
Our hearts are not so strong. Lines have been drawn
on my once-upon-a-time wanton body
waiting for your father to unwrap me like a sari –
the night birds and cicadas thrilling to our moans
as he arched my hips and pulled me onto him
ripe as a pomegranate – until we fell away.
When it came – I was alone in the house and you –
far from me – playing. Swept out – branches
caught my hair – prison bars across my eyes –
forcing me to watch the water’s furious birth –
her lips torn by blades of ships and roofs.
Only the naked on treetops were saved my love.



Mariamman is the Tamil earth goddess.

I feel they have their hands on me, said Kumari of the daughters she lost in the 2004 Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, The Guardian, Indian Ocean tsunami: the parents rebuilding their families, 19.7.2013.

The Tamil name for pomegranate, maadulampazham – from maadhu (woman) and ullam (mind) – is a metaphor for a woman's mind, which means, as the seeds are hidden, it is not easy to decipher a woman's mind.

Emma Hellyer
meet the author

Emma Hellyer

Emma Hellyer is a writer/poet living in France, currently writing a poetry collection which turns around questions of kindness, kinship, belonging and exile, from the perspective of a British migrant. She worked for 23 years at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, running the [...]