|Apr/May 2011 Poetry|
Photo by Leeca Desforges
Diwali, Hindu Festival of Lights: How it May or May Not Have Begun
An invention then, a story:
when Ganesha, elephant-headed god,
was three, Parvati, his mother,
made him three small boats
of reeds and mud,
filled each with oil, lit each drop
with her fingertip
and set them floating on the Ganges.
Moon and Water, looking on,
turned the three boats into six.
Ganesha laughed and cried for more.
His mother reached out with a net,
long-handled, made of spider silk,
dipped it, caught each shimmering twin,
turned it upright, set it free,
then its twin and again,
that one, that one, that one,
until the river filled and shone
with a thousand, thousand lights.
Night and boat-lamps fading,
Moon calls them home
along its path.
Day almost breaking,
mother and child both tired now,
Parvati lifts him, drowsing, in her arms,
answers Water's call to bathe.
Rocked and cradled, then, they sleep.
Odd, almost comical, to have forgotten them,
until, just now, coming on their name
in a poem and they, insistent,
unearth a garden left to others' care
long enough ago.
They will not allow me to forget.
With the name and its recollection
of their own blue haze
below a row of sumacs,
come others: plumed astilbe,
the velvet bronze
of Queen Sophia marigolds,
white impatiens nesting among the roots
of a century old black maple.
(A night garden, I remember thinking,
a moonlight garden)
In fact, it was a borrowed garden,
never really mine.
But it may be all are borrowed,
only briefly ours.
Abandon one and see how quickly
wildness makes its claim.
Leave one to others,
willingly or otherwise
and time will blur the names,
body-memory lose in self-protection
the pungency of onion-grass,
comradeship of tools.