Cover Story | Freedom Issue 2022
11 Aug, 2022
Who knew that the world could so empty
that the widowed days would need application
like dye and design on a penwork cloth.
No mordant and the color won’t “bite,” no resist
and the indigo bath promises to engulf
the pattern. The wise man does not indulge in grief
for all creatures are cooked by time. Days begin,
expectant: bleached cotton primed
for the maker’s hand; a controlled press
of ink arranging the hours like episodes from the old stories
in which a blue god shoots his arrows on a red battlefield,
his life story filling the wall-wide cloth.
Who knew that even a god must die, and worse:
be sundered from brothers and beloved.
Who knew that he would refuse heaven because that heaven
was no heaven but more longing for those he loved.
That sound is air gusting. Those who truly are wise
*The first set of italicized lines is from the Mahābhārata, as translated by John D Smith.
About The Author
Subhashini Kaligotla is an associate professor of Indian and South Asian Art History at Columbia University, New York. Her debut poetry collection is Bird of the Indian Subcontinent
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