I was young when you came to me. Each thing rings its turn, you sang in my ear, a slip of a thing dressed like a convent girl— white socks, shoes, dark blue pinafore, white blouse. A pencil box in hand: girl, book, tree— those were the words you gave me. Girl was penne, hair drawn back, gleaming on the scalp, the self in a mirror in a rosewood room the sky at monsoon time, pearl slits In cloud cover, a jagged music pours: gash of sense, raw covenant clasped still in a gold bound book, pusthakam pages parted, ink rubbed with mist, a bird might have dreamt its shadow there spreading fire in a tree maram. You murmured the word, sliding it on your tongue, trying to get how a girl could turn into a molten thing and not burn. Centuries later worn out from travel I rest under a tree. You come to me a bird shedding gold feathers, each one a quill scraping my tympanum. You set a book to my ribs. Night after night I unclasp it at the mirror's edge alphabets flicker and soar. Write in the light of all the languages you know the earth contains, you murmur in my ear. This is pure transport.
Desire is never one way. Black
snakes crawl through your throat. The divine longs
for human proximity to divinity. The divine longs
for touch. You have not wanted
a body. And you have
wanted. A careless
tongue can make chatter
but unrequited love
can make an avalanche.
Your teeth chatter and you know
somewhere a funeral parade is moving, one ant
after another marching. Your snake shed its skins as the curve of a pilgrimage
awaiting dawn. Heaven is too much a metaphor
to be of use to a lover weeping for
a false love. Every shaman needs a healer
and every God a devotee they can admire.
When God comes back from the pilgrimage, you are more
plump. Everyone can see your wisdoms
sprouting. This time — dangerous. Even women
will cast stones. Watch the people’s hands: they carry
shards of their half-spoken dreams. But you have
invented an embrace. In the first worship,
you make the one devoted to devotion devoted to you.
You bring the mountain
into your lips. Without
prayer, your mouth blooms.