Shamhat

From the beginning of time, the goddess reveals herself

through this earth. She comes and strips naked

before the eyes of those she has chosen. She purses her lips,

invites spectators to kiss. Their own fate

she unravels with her skilful tongue:

a tale of eternal sojourns.
 

This you must know, pilgrim.

There is no quench to your needs,

simply an acknowledgement of it.

Coming to this temple is not the end to your wanderings.

Merely a beginning of infinite pathways

Unfolded through my body

Welcome, touch.

But you must not make a home here.
 

Instead, I invite you to walk.

Tread with your arms, wrestle with your legs.

Plow, cultivate vegetation into this flesh

trying to swallow you whole

panting, stretching, growling
 

And when your back has already been clawed raw,

when you have devoured every fruit that grows,

when you have drunk water from every crevice,

when you have released your last seed into this ground,

cast your eyes at the expanse-

at awe in all things around you.

This land renews itself. Opens pathways

for her new stranger.
 

Let everything behind and before you

pass your view. Go.

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Tropic of Cancer

Pride-nourished bones:

An ivory head

cut clean and chiseled, crammed full of highway street smarts

smoothening the traffic of the senses.

It sits straight on the spine

made up of countless women’s cartilages,

a lumbar trail for the uninitiated,

stepped and compressed

to compensate for that extra rib.

Pelvis juts out in calcified defiance,

taunting anyone to a test of strength

tries to hide its soft parts within its sharp edges

honed by years of fear for an unknown intruder

that might just be herself.

All these weight are shouldered by these thighbones

trained to hold the added baggage

that my upper extremities refuse to put down

(I still had room for another pound in my heart).

 

I am proud of my home.

These bones

have built this self to stand tall,

strong in itself, strong on its own

A bedrock amidst the shifting sand.

 

But like all houses unfazed by summer storms,

mine begins to simmer inside.

 

A spark of lightning at the base of the skull

creeps a long way down to my spine.

It lingers at my loins,

feeds at my thighs

until my body roars to an uncontrollable furnace

a never dying pyre for the self.

It gnaws at its marrow

unsatisfied.

 

Pride-nourished bones:

My body is a bundle of fire wood-

a cruel insurance policy

in case of these internal emergencies.

Build your house with the sweat of your brow,

pay in blood when it burns down.

Remind me again,

What do dwellers do when their house wages war against them?

When the body betrays itself?

When elements crusade to convert

materials into beings

and beings into materials-

who should arbitrate on the matter?

 

My first ‘amen’

was probably breathed from

the heavy smell of a rising tempest

What used to be a tell-tale for refuge

Becomes a fragrance that lures

the self to strip naked,

to provocatively dance on fire,

to open windows and doors

and to surrender to the hurricane

allowing the tide to wash these bones away.

My house becomes a wreck- floats for

all the things I slowly let go of

as waves lap at all open wounds

salting bruises, cleansing pores,

dissolving all in the whirlpool of unlikely grace.

 

Sometimes what it takes to get out is to give in-

to rely on strangers,

or even storms

and believe that

these pride-nourished bones

will continue to drift on.