Jhilmil Breckenridge


Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet, writer and activist. She is the Founder of Bhor Foundation, a mental health charity. Her areas of work are mental health, domestic violence and trauma. Jhilmil is currently working on a PhD in the UK and her poetry and other writings have been widely published and anthologised. Jhilmil is currently shortlisted for the prestigious RL Poetry Award 2017 and is working on her first collection of poems. She is Editor for The Woman Inc and one of their initiatives is helping women heal from domestic violence through the use of poetry. She tweets at jhilmilspirit. These poems are unpublished.


Gateway to Pleasure

My body has a broken gateway
How many people can enter
a body before it breaks?

Gateways to pleasure
Gateways to houses
Gateways to security

My body was his home, he said
Bloated from his presence, I swallowed
screams because marital rape

is legal, allowed, even smiled upon
Homes are decorated, gateways
celebrated. How do you rebuild

amongst the blood and placentas?
Amongst the sindoor and the shehnai?
Night after night, I decorated his home —

putting alta on my feet, henna on my hands.
Night after night, his hands rattled
the locks on it’s gateway

My body has a broken gateway
My body has a broken gateway.


Sindoor: Red powder traditionally used by married Hindu women in the parting of their hair to denote marriage in India
Shehnai: Musical wind instrument, used in classical Hindustani music. Typically played at weddings
Alta: coloured red liquid used to decorate hands and feet, often for festivals, dances, or just to beautify.


A Lesson in Living

Brilliant yellow takes my breath away
Your optimistic countenance delights
Your tender, slender stems in the wind sway
The delicate blooms in my heart ignites
An unbearable lightness of being
And although your blossoming is doomed
Your beauty is all for the seeing
Though wild and commonplace you are assumed

Daffodils, teach us to seize the moment
To rejoice and dance, laugh and revel
Poverty stricken, rich with endowment,
Head in the clouds or with the ground level
All that is ours is just this one breath
When will we learn, only at our death?




  1. So much pain…

  2. …this one breath…
    Many lives dying a silent death
    In this one breath

    Some bloomed, rejoiced
    died a happy death
    Yet some struggled
    gasping for just one more breath

    All we have is this one breath

  3. The last line- When will we learn, only at out death Beautiful Jhilmil!

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