Devotion – Vidya Panicker, Kerala


lightsBathed in the yellow glow of a hundred
lighted lamps, she smiles at them—
the ones who drape her in shimmering
red silk, embellish her with gold
and fresh garlands, shout her name
in devotion, roll on the floor for her

They ring the bells, embalm sindoor
on their sweating foreheads, bow, leave

to rape their sisters, burn their wives,
abuse their daughters, insult their mothers?

In the darkness of  her sanctum, now closed,
the Goddess cowers behind her seat,
weeps in fear and agony, the air inside
blackened with the smoke of her hair
smoldering  in the dying fire

from the last burning lamp.


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