As Durga, she is difficult of access.
As Parvati or Uma, daughter of the Himalaya.
Also Gauri, the golden one.
And Kali, the black one, or time, when time
is a woman. This is all the same force.
Black against. Cloud and snow, inaccessible
crevasses and couloirs are Nanda Devi,
bliss-giving goddess. Maha Devi, great mother.
Shashti is sixth. Six days after birth
she injures children and before then must be placated
with fasting, gifts, distractions. The goddess
is here inside me, I can feel her
kick, said poor Gisèle, gaunt and pregnant by the fruit juice stand,
my mother might send money but
I can’t reach her.

I am the golden child,
and share my lord’s austerities deep in my father’s mountains.
Abstinence is the power between us. Gold, black,
prepared to injure, my body
heats the cold wind.

All of this is
difficult to access, difficult to ask for, like sex,
Latin for six.


Published in:
New England Review. Vol 35, No. 1 (2014).