Madder Red Dreams by Rupinder Kaur

Madder red dreams

Black renuka kumkum bindi, dimples and a big smile. Handmade gajra missing,

madder red nails. Banarasi saree, floral block prints, no name just Indian.

One day there will be a perfect fitted blouse. Is this Rekha, no it’s me.


Amrita Sher-Gil, Self-Portrait as a Tahitian.

The first semi brown boobs painted. What do they want? —

hair tied back, madder red lips, hands on top of another.

White cloth wrapped below the navel. Men and women singing on an island.


She wears a magenta sharara, with no ordinary bangles but a choora.

A new bride, surrounded by dragon trees. No madder red leaves.

Mum looks ahead with her venus gaze.

Rupinder Kaur

Rupinder Kaur is a Panjabi Birmingham based writer, performer and creative curator. Her debut poetry book Rooh (2018) was published with Verve Poetry Press. She has been awarded a DYCP grant from the Arts Council to work on her next poetry collection and is currently a BBC new creative. Twitter: rupinderkw

About This Poem

This poem begins with analysing a portrait photo of myself, followed by the epic painting done by Amrita Sher-Gil, Self-Portrait as a Tahitian (1934) and then reflecting on a photo of my mum a few days after her wedding day.

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