Published on Academy of American Poets (

Mira pushes aside the mountain you are climbing

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.


Copyright © 2019 by Purvi Shah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Giridhara, your name is the raft, the one safe-passage over./ Take me quickly,’ declares Mirabai (as translated by Jane Hirshfield in Mirabai’s ‘Awake to the Name’). What does it mean for devotion to be reciprocated? To have deities devoted to us? This poem evokes a present-day Mira reinvigorating the story of Krishna (Giridhara) granting refuge to people by lifting a mountain with his finger. When we lean into our divinity, our sensuality, imagine that the gods need us too—what happens? Perhaps snakes, perhaps bloom.”
Purvi Shah


Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah is the author of Miracle Marks (Northwestern University Press, 2019). She works as a non-profit consultant on gender & racial equity.

Date Published: 2019-11-22

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