cold countries have no gods; blizzards stir a maple or two ever
to lisp in prayer, cutting through their monotone. ash, cloves and ginger
keep us warm. how did we who swore by the sun reach here,
you ask, knee-deep in snow, scratched red by breeze. ash, cloves and ginger
diffuse in potions that smell of wooden houses. head down in fire
place, gods who did travel with us turned to ash. cloves and ginger
in every curry you ever cook skews my memory. black ice like pepper
tears my skin, blood oozes with saliva. handful of ash, cloves and ginger
crystallize in my tears. how will my corpse be cremated in this weather,
you consider-another excuse to not let go? you rub ash, cloves and ginger
on my feet and wonder what is acceptable to our gods. bay leaves you never
put in rice puddings you serve for my birthdays. ash, cloves, ginger
and our lives together resonate with our mispronounced names. return, dear,
with me another day to ashen mornings steeped in cloves and ginger.
for devadasis who taught us how to dance
Afternoon, tropical and warm.
Hundred bells weigh
down her feet.
Decades knotted at once, quiet,
wait for the toes to leave
the ground, and speak.
Barren temple walls refuse to speak.
Well-fed holy fires warm
up. Red streams between thighs leave
memories. Gods weigh
in. Prayers rot in quiet.
She is stained, and thereby, declared fit.
Amber verses, their lines, their feet,
she soaks. They speak
to her, curled in a quiet
womb. Melting in a sun so warm,
the ancient drum stands.
What if she could now leave!--
this count of her feet,
leave this hour that weighs
the sky against a blessing. How to speak
a tongue of warm
devotion through a marriage, eternal and quiet?
Watches her consort, a cosmic quiet
deity. No interlude to her dance, no leave,
till she petrifies, kissed by a worm,
can no longer lift her feet.
Thickly engraved temple walls now speak
to onlookers on the way.
My non-child-bearing hips and non-lactating breasts will jut out
from your history, temple walls,
family. Tribhanga, my stance, bends one
my neck, two my waist,
three my knee. Don't waste
me a deity; I am no Lord Krishna's gopi, out
fordivine grace. Transfixed by temple wall,
& my finery, say you're one
traveler; you'restoned the one
among many lovers of my stone-studded waist.
You too miss that embossed wall's
call and response tricks that wall
my body unsolicited. I raise my one
foothigh. The other with its accent gnarls my waist.
Bells jingle I labor. Shout Out.