Jagadamba

 

I sell my body to free myself, she says

somnolent Devadasi girl with eyes

like an ox, her red-and-yellow sari

is made from lac and safflower. She was

sold off the farm at twelve to men who

slid open her quarters like a bread cabinet

who do not look god in the face because

she is Maadiga, that which cannot be seen

so glorious is her immanence, like

each star was a torch passed on to her

who looks up at the night for warmth

from trillions of long ago lights. Suffer

O ox-eyed Yellamma, while men pay

to grind your fine grain into sand.

Whoever cannot believe can swear to god

for a covenant that justifies your ways

to the lustful race of man buying his own.


R. Charboneau