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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




    —For Latha & Lakshmi

On Diwali morning
her childhood returns: dew
on the burnt grass, birds in flight
singing, pampering by her aunts,
the rustling of new dresses,
delectable meals and sweets
prepared under Grandma’s guidance.

Joy sugared the air, as bright
as firecrackers exploding.

On a November night
the festival would arrive: the perfect
opening notes of a symphony
that would decide the fate of the planet.
Each moment was alive:
it was like being washed in the geyser
of memory.

She was a child then
and bathed in the glow of golden flames
that licked the sides of the anda.
In the halo of lamps that were a sacred path
for Lakshmi, and with a kumkum dot
on her forehead, she knew that she herself
was the victory of light over darkness   

and the most beautiful child
in the universe.

* * * * * * * * * *

Anda: In Hindu culture, a huge pot blackened with soot that is used for ritual bathing.
Kumkum Dot: The forehead mark made with a red powder of the same name.
Lakshmi: The goddess of wealth and good fortune who presides over the Festival of Light.


© by Charles Fishman


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