Photo by JOHN VATER
I chose the following poem (written in 2004) in dialogue with Tina Troickaja, whose name I drew from the hat. I sent Tina some poems of mine translated in Ukrainian in Vsesvit magazine a few years ago. She read them in Ukrainian and in the English original, and I asked her to choose the one that spoke to her most directly. She chose Jaya Devi.
Goddess, tonight you are dreadful
Last night you enticed me
In your watery blue
Even the moon was blue.
Why tonight do you shake and pump my body
Until filth flows out from all my orifices.
On my knees I heave and puke
And beg you wash me clean
With warm liquids
Laced with turmeric and neem.
Instead you shower me
With a deluge harsh and cold
I shiver and you throw me down
An empty shell.
I know I am your baby and
Don’t I know your pestilence and stench?
And how often have I seen you dance in burial grounds?
I also know your lotus touch.
Heal and let me sleep.
Tomorrow I will speak.
If you want I change my voice
Don’t show me all my shit and muck
Just prod me a little more gently
And again I’ll sing your praise
Jaya Devi Jaya
In Delhi after the blue moon in January, 2004.