Lightning stricken Damini. I
Paint my lotus feet vermillion
With demons’ blood. A crazed tandav.
Devi, the divine riverine!
Your daughters’ corpses float upstream.
Your sons pollute your high esteem.
The bhuvans tremble as demons
Run unbridled, raise foreign hells.
They masquerade as gentle men.
They scale my sparks and fleeting shocks
Electric ladder, heaven’s bowl
fissured above, chaos below.
I must return to my earthen
womb, or remain, exiled and burned.
My chastity chortled away.
I, the root of all desire
Will dance upon blazing pyres,
til my flesh bubbles cosmic black.
Let my body find comfort in
the sky’s bed of swollen rain clouds.
A stormy shelter, heaven’s brew.
Devour me in your darkness,
Mahakali, silence my rain!
Mother, render me obsolete.
Do hidden relics lie beneath my skin?
Crystal marrow, or diamond bones?
Engulfed in puckered tissue
Sheets of lipids and sinew.
My soul is trapped in a lost tantrika
Her face is puffy, marred and pitted.
Her hair reticulates, a knot of spitting snakes.
Limbs of cured leather, skin of boiled milk.
What grotesque ogress
Have I grown into?
Who cursed my flesh
To sag and dimple?
I turned my back on
the Enlightened One
for rouge, and crushed micah.
I drugged those serpents with golden oils,
Slick, entwined with jasmine pearls.
A budding Buddha, defiled with material desire
Send me off in milky waters
Let my ashes chase the floating lamps downstream
A last resort for a sinner like me
Barred by yantras of my own design
Shameless, I still covet the divine
My words sear as they leave my lips
I swallowed their daggers and swords
Blades hide behind a silver smile
The rivers of my patience thin,
Men quench their thirst at my dried banks
The crocodiles lay, jaws await.
My sitar strings no longer sing
My fingertips long for the cool,
Of a trident, weapon and shrine.
Wake me when the world is ready,
My stars now droop, watching your wars
My waters have turned to venom.
My thoughts retreat back to their source;
A mountainous tributary
will now bear my eternal flame.
Give me the strength to cut them down
those who lust after my shadow,
sharp, like the moon’s vibrant laughter.
Just a spark from your flaming mouth,
Mata Rani, would be enough
to topple them to their knees
Dark warrior, I send tremors
with every step, shower the Earth
in sanguine offerings. Pralaya.
A noose of my sooten tresses
to strangle those lecherous heads,
A skullcap my new drinking bowl.
I will bathe my sisters’ graveyards
in their blood, til rivers flow red
once again, as they bled, infinite.
Damini – lit. Lighting, though often used to describe a woman.
Tandav – A vigorous dance performed by the Hindu god Shiva.
Devi – Goddess.
Bhuvans – Realms in Hindu cosmology.
Mahakali – lit. Great Kali, the Divine Mother and Goddess of Time.
Cintamani – A wish-granting jewel in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. It is said that a Cintamani can be found in the ashes of a Buddha.
Tantrika – Someone who practices Tantrism, a taboo practice that preceded Hinduism and Buddhism.
Yantra – A geometric design originating from Tantric practice that holds great significance in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions. There are many yantras associated with various deities for particular uses.
Jwalamukhi – lit. Flame-faced Goddess, The Goddess of the Eternal Flame, associated with Goddess Durga and Shaktism.
Mata Rani – lit. Mother Queen, an epithet for the Goddess Durga and her many forms, particularly Goddess Vaishnodevi or Sherawali.
Pralaya – lit. Destruction. A period of apocalyptic dissolution in Hindu cosmology.
Priyasha Janhavi is a Sydney-based poet and writer. An avid traveller, she traverses the world for artefacts of identity to preserve in her verse. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing at Macquarie University, and was long-listed for the 2022 Future Leaders Writing Prize.