The Day Of The Goddess
by Bibhu Padhi (December 2013)
Here, in Puri, the goddess
of plenty is only a kilometre away.
On the last Thursday of Margasira,
she is invited early in the morning,
long before the arrival of light and day;
the women know her numerous
commitments of the day.
She has also to go back in time,
remain inside a large fictional space.
All these the women seem to know,
for they’ve already washed their
steps and floors, drawn holy figures
which her feet shall touch, with
expectations and rice flour.
The goddess has to leave the town,
move far, visit the neighbouring states.
She will have to be a guest of honour
at every humble nest and prosperous tower.
I know, our nest is too small
to contain her blessings.
We go through the day as we did
yesterday, remembering how plainly
we have spent our days together,
with our ancestors, our dead fathers.
The sacred day gradually goes past
everyone. Night enters with its winter.
We move into our beds, cover ourselves
with blankets and pray, pray for
a long, dreamless night’s sleep.
The night seems too long for our
customary sleep and doesn’t seem to end.
We dream. Something stirs, the door opens.
A shining stranger, washed in milk,
quietly enters our modest home.
She looks tired. Even then, she stands
leaning on the wall, with a faint touch
of a smile on her fair face. And before
she turns back to walk back to her abode
for rest, she looks long at our children and us,
blessedly. I open our eyes, shining with
memories of recent things. The night ends.
Bibhu Padhi's seventh book of poetry, MIGRATORY DAYS A TRAVEL DIARY IN VERSE, was published in 2011. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, the most recent being THE HARPERCOLLINS BOOK OF ENGLISH POETRY (2012). He lives in Bhubaneswar, India.
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