I gaze upwards towards the trees to receive the daily offering—apple crimson, carrot orange, eggplant purple and delicata yellow—each leaf sings of the setting sun and boasts the dance of death. Here, she generously showers me with dried fruits of harvest. This oak shall be my temple, I pray to Devi, the sacred Hindu Goddess. I thank her for the sacrificial fire she lights today against a bright sky of cerulean, for this breath and this one. For the crisp red pepper I consumed as prasad. For the space and time to meet her on this auspicious evening.
I sing and croon praises like lullabies to a child at bedtime, recounting great adventures of a long-forgotten season. Blessed Mother tinged in gold and red, who wears a necklace of blossoms! You are the great one who slayed the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha! Sacred mother who rides the lion and bears a skull and sword! Sometimes warrior, sometimes wife, sometimes scholar. Always, beyond label.
A shiver moves down my spine, and I wrap my sweatshirt tighter. Sometimes, despite the incantations, I really just need one of your many arms to hold me. To hold all of us. I want to shout out—Bhoodevi, the earth, is at the bottom of the ocean. She needs to be saved; she needs to be lifted by the tusk as she drowns beneath the rising tides! The forests burn and creatures flee in panic. My fellow humans suffer from hunger, thirst, and violence. Where are you? What do I do?
As Kali, you stick your tongue out at me and laugh, your roaring hair aflame. You bear a fearsome toothy grin, but through the window of your eyes I can see the light of laughter. Did I miss the joke?
You smile more gently now and whisper back on an autumnal breeze, "I have never left, leave or will leave. I am every drop of the pulsing river, every blade of grass, every star in every constellation. You forget, lost in maya, in the fear and illusion of born-preserve-die. Towards the end, you curl up like brittle leaves, to ash. How else do I paint the green saplings and the suns and the bodies of children? Do whatever allows you to wake up from the dream."
I inhale the crumpled carcasses dissolving to dirt and dust beneath my feet.
Esha Khruana MD, MPH is a healer, writer and thinker based in Pittsburgh who enjoys writing poetry, essay, short story, and long fiction as a means of reflecting on her experiences. She draws constant inspiration from the dance between mind, body and spirit as well as mythology, nature, meditation, good food and good conversations.
Up next, Wishing Upon Shooting Stars
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