LATE IN HERA Necklace of Skulls, Eunice de Souza says, “We push so much under the carpet—/ the carpet’s now a landscape/ A worm embedded in each tuft/ There’s a forest moving.” We’re almost a hundred pages in so can at this point say with confidence that de Souza’s poetry has a great deal to do with this metaphorical, infested carpet. Saying the unsayable, bringing things out from under the carpet, is what gave her first collection—Fix (1979)—its potency, a collection which, 30 years on, still comes across as powerful, funny, uplifting and, despite the poet in rebel mode, wonderfully restrained. Is this continued appeal a sign of the timelessness of all good poetry, or is it the result of more local factors?
Perhaps both. De Souza doesn’t just say the unsayable, she says it the way characters in her poems say the sayable—the voices in which they push things under carpets, complain about their husbands, scold their children, make idylls of the past and speak to God or his intermediaries. In Fix, many of whose poems concern the life of the Goan Roman Catholic community, de Souza takes apart the clichés—the marriages made in heaven and the pillars of the Church. These should be, conventionally, sneering poems, but they turn out, on closer reading, to be sympathetic ones. Take Mrs Hermione Gonsalvez:
In the good old days