by Diane Mehta
Hot sky: glare modifies the horizon where Asia rises
in yellow, over hard-caked dung on the roofs that poverty built.
Someone related to me through a tree’s maze lifts her eyes
to the sun’s downbeat. Always half past the time it takes to grow
wise to household chores, she listens as love rises or rests longer.
The government switches seats again or battles in the north.
Old cows rearrange their locations in the fields or sidestreets
to watch the procession of scooters and pedestrians
hurrying to money, duty or love. She takes a new name
and with it a new God, like insulin. The decades drizzle
their doubt into every preconceived notion: there is love
obligation creates, and children that love makes.
Her handwritten prayers in the Devanagari script seem religious
in my imagination. Of course, she does not really exist
any more than any woman’s hate or happiness. At one time
or another, every woman is a kind of hieroglyph.
Diane Mehta is a New York-based poet and critic. She works at the American Museum of Natural History. (1999)