Grammar of the Goddess

Kanya Kanchana

I have heard it said
the night is void हाhā;
I have heard it said
the night is full.
To shake this paradox
by its neck, हूंhūṃ
I went.

In her ultramarine palm क्रींkrīṃ,
a skull of butter क्लींklīṃ.
By white of her teeth
and smoke of her breath,
I knew ह्रींhrīṃ
the Dark One

who? कka light of her eye,
rising कka red of her tongue,
belly कka enchanted and round,
mirror कka mirror काkā never काkā ever—

My femur
in the jaws of her hounds स्वाहाsvāhā
tastes like a syllable.

     Where, twice-born,
     will you go that is
     not me?

Fingernail touched
to your lips that say
     —come this way.

     Come back,
     come back, I beg you,
     ॐoṃ as the Auspicious One.

All your children
and their heads
in your wheelbarrow,
laid with care,
with such care.
All your howling ones

Charnel, carnal, vegetal,
a fever dream, I
have not one but three
umbilici, whorling, whirling,
taking me across.
Your seal
is on my spine.

Fear is a cloak
that drops फट्phaṭ
with seeing.

The limen 
is a luminous

I turn
this jewel-like knowledge
श्रींśrīṃ between my fingers.
Our breaths
reticulate the air.

Distal causes,
proximal causes,

Fifteen, or sixteen, petals,
a meander on the floor.

Empress of the Three Cities,
You ask. I answer:
     I am here. I am here.

We dreamed
the same dream—saw,
waking from the calyx,
ह्रींhrīṃ the dream
within the dream.

We, numinous dreamers,
were the dream.

     All is play. All is play.

In the scission
of time, I fathom हसरऐंhsraiṃ
your oestrous somnolence.

Lingering, I dust
your beautiful ossuary,
just हसरक्लींhsrklīṃ
to touch.
Your sister
is upstairs.

Your intemperate dog
is eating my flowers. Oh,

I hear
the restless susurrus
of your sheets.
     How much longer now?

Upon second breath,
my veins empty
on your floor.

I am an unreasonable
apotheosis. Tucking
a karavīra behind my ear,
not looking left
or right, श्रींśrīṃ I jump.

A silver needlepoint rises
up to meet me. Your face,
Red One, is my eye,
and thunderbolts
are ultraviolet.

I, temporally,
am unsustainable. I
who have no head
on my chittering filament,
remember everything—
what I know, a skin
beneath my skin.

     I will not ask, Yoginī,
     if my three-and-a-half offering
     is to your liking.

Viscous smoke slips
through my fingers.
There is something
I should know, but
I forget.

My ignorance is old,
my chaos obscure.
It seems
it is not as it seems.
Here, धूंdhūṃ
the parthenogenesis
of silence.

     I know you
     from somewhere,
     Grandmother. We
     cracked arecanuts
     once, and chewed
     betel in lime.

     Smear my forehead
     with ash, White One,
     this night winnow me

     Listen, girl,
     be clever, but not
     too clever.

     your letters
     and flowers,
she said, chewing
a young mango leaf.

     give me some
     of your tiffin,
     and ऐंaiṃ,
     speak now.

A thousand times
my hand moulded
around my heart.
Clearing my throat,
I asked,
     Emerald One,
     why is it still porous?

She laughed so hard.

     Why worry, girl,
     gather up your skirts
     and hush your anklets.
     Now let’s go stalk
     the spoor of elephants.

[Images: Lithographic prints circa 1885, Calcutta Art Studio]