Oodles of Pudina

by Aruna Gurumurthy

When oodles of pudina bloom in our yard,
we walk by the mountainous long, mint esplanades,
plucking the green leaves in big overflowing baskets.
We fry them with chipotle, then drizzle with tamarind and spices,
throw coconut shavings in and whisk ‘em all in a blender
making a fine, delectable paste called pudina chutney.

Bathing in a mélange of flavors, mustard seeds and urad lentils, this chutney
is a mashing of all the bygone battles, the cryptic maladies surrounding the yard
of life. We throw the anger, the agony, the pudina in the blender,
the mint displaced from its place of birth, the winding esplanades
of the South to the kitchen, with a tantalizing aroma of spices.
Pulverized in the blender, the crushed leaves embrace a life outside the basket.

“Let me adorn with fresh paint, a benediction of the gorgeous green,” says the basket.
Let us come together and put an end to hate, let us make love in this chutney.
After all, we have all the ingredients, starting with the spices,
to the mint leaves carefully plucked from the sprawling yard.
The brown beauty that once bore the rich, juicy leaves in the esplanade,
is now resting leafless, the leaves themselves in the blender.

Anointed with sesame oil, fried in a mystical mixture, the blended
flavors are a renewal of yesterday’s minty expressions in basketfuls
of love. The evergreen aroma of pudina from the esplanade
swirls in the alleys and the scent and spices enliven the chutney.
Bathed in the reverie of coconut, we transform the mint foliage from the yard,
beckoning a smoky, salty ensemble of southern spices.

Afloat in this journey, the mint is brimming with a lingering tickle of spices
and the green gooey wonder, all in the blender,
with the chef’s eye and juxtaposition of senses we don’t see in the yard.
The music, the medley, the minty aura in the basket
dance their way to a glass urn containing the chutney.
They miss their free life, their fresh yearnings, their green grassy esplanade.

As though bathing in summer’s paradise, the esplanade
celebrates the becoming of a spicy
mint marriage with the herbal essences in a pickled chutney.
Even the strange eccentricities of life resolve in the pool of fiery peppers in the blender.
The chutney is a marvel, drops of trickling pudina, once leaves in a basket,
now falling on my tongue, as I lick, its origins in the green, glossy yard.

From the grassy esplanades of the mountains, we pluck mint leaves, blending
them with exotic spices creaming the chutney. The fragrance of mint and the basket
dripping mashed leaves into a sumptuous chutney, birth the hidden wonders in the yard.

Aruna Gurumurthy is an author and observer of human nature. Since her childhood in Mumbai, India, she has embarked on a journey of creative exploration. Her poems have appeared in literary journals, regional anthologies and numerous poetry collections since 2015. Aruna is part of the thriving Southern literary community. She lives with her loving family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.