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International Reflective Writing

Sri Lanka

Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe

The poet, Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe’s poetry won the State Literary Award in 1993, the English Writers’ Cooperative Prize for Poetry in 1998, and her manuscript of poetry was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize of 1998, the foremost literary prize in Sri Lanka, established by Michael Ondaatje. Ms. Jirasinghe has a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.

Into this water, let us sow

Last week, across the lagoon waded the sea of innocents;

blood-spattered, salt-drenched, in fragments of flaming saris, shards of red-splotched sarongs.

Now, as black smoke rises in the distance from silent guns, on this water, lulling in the wind, float scraps of a history of death and twenty-six years of hatred, bits of shattered ideology, blasted bone.

Into this water, let us sow.

We will search every inch of this island for the seeds of a different lotus;

find it where thin rays of forgetfulness and magnanimity have coaxed fragile sprouts, glistening, sun green.

Into this water, let us sow.

And these seeds will weather this salt lagoon bed still the risen soil, clear the red waves and spread their hollow tubers and grow.

To bloom and bloom, this many-petalled lotus, so easily made rotten with bigotry crushed by its burden of association, we will make anew, this salinated home.

Into this water, let us sow.

May this lagoon fill with thousands of flowers swaying, lilting and gasping for light and air, covering the table, turning it into a different altar its own purpose.

Into this water, let us sow.

Let us sow and hold our breath.



The walls are covered in tears 
in the house that kept hidden
the dreams of a girl once written in blood,
now passed down again  and 
on paper and celluloid.

Out. Out. These bloody stains,
and to the Dam Rak to 
let the world pass in a
Pot clouded haze.

Or a museum to put, 
sensuality behind glass and
streets to put 
women behind windows
for Japanese tour operators
to take chattering women
on a trip of their own 
 Moral goodness.

So let's forget blood for now;

may chairs from Goa
and blood behind bookcases
remain clean of hysteria,
purified by museum lines
from the


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