Usha Kishore

3rd Vol, No2  (August  2016)

 

Reading the Daughter of Fire

{after reading Pratibha Ray’sYagnaseni }fire

I read the Daughter of Fire as she reincarnates

herself in each new age, as a vibrant new text.

I read her as she steps into the world, from a womb of fire.

 

I do not read her dark beauty, her intoxicating fragrance,

her lotus eyes, her slender waist, her sensuous limbs.

I do not read her five husbands, hopelessly handsome

Kuru men, sons of Gods.  I do not read her five sons, children

of lost destiny, desperately squandered in everlasting exile.

 

But I read her conjugal rites, fire-walking from husband

to husband.  I read her dragged by her unravelled hair

into the court of Kuru kings.  I read her writhing under

lusty eyes.  I read her yellow sari unwound by lecherous hands,

her ritual body contracting with spasms, her heart

wrenched again and again by the five silent men,

who pawned her away at dice. I read her rage at hands

that summon her to a wretched thigh. I read the words

of that noble warrior of the House of Sun:

Disrobe her, the dark skinned whore!

 

I read her, Daughter of Fire, in her eternal angst.

I read her screams of agony for sons cremated

intheir sleep.  I read the demon blood drenching her hair.

I read promises made, I read promises rent.

I read withered hope, fluttering at her breast.

I read the betrayal of womanhood.

 

I read her fire-walking in the battlefields of Kurukshetra,

where that old man Time lies wounded on a bed of arrows…

 

 

The Ghost of Abhimanyu

You are fast asleep now mother, as you were thenabhimanuand so was my father, the silver archer, both

of you measuring my fate in your sonorous snores,

while he, the Universal Man, unravelled secrets

ofchakravyuha, armoured discs in wheel maze,

sealing my entwined life in eternal battle.

I wish you were awake.  I wish you had memorised

the rest of that ominous spell, you who were human;

I was not human enough. But, you had slept through

vibrant dreams that bore you on the wings

of darkness, away from a beloved legacy you had

passionately engendered.  You had smiled sweetly

in your sleep as the resonant voice of the great singer

had frozen on my half-formed ears.  My life, short,

sweet, blazing with sound and fury, vibrant like

the thunderof battle drums that dies with night.

I was conceived to be slaughtered by a horde

of blood-crazed cowards, on the thirteenth day

of the great war.  I had fearlessly entered

that ill-fated, seven tiered spiral, only to lose

my way in that dreaded labyrinth of fate.

Wily providence had slyly shape-shifted

into your slumber.  I, scion of the moon,

who had valiantly held at bay that splendid son

of the sun, relentlessly fought the circle of shameless

Kuru chiefs, with my chariot wheel, only to be

mercilessly slain. You are not even here to mourn

for me, you are mercifully locked away on this

bewitched golden isle in the middle of a wine red sea.

This fire-born stepmother of mine, takes my torn body,

bloodshot and broken limbed, on her lap and screams

to the skies that even the stars shed tears.

How many mothers mourn their sons today, their tears

drowning the wind?  Their memories, trumpet-tongued

raising the seas and bringing the heavens down.

My warrior father swears self-immolation

and that Universal Man smiles in immortal bliss.

I was born a saviour of the Bharata clan, they say;

a warrior prince who bore the destiny of a dynasty

in his charmèd life.  I come to take leave of younow,

on your golden isle, to see you smiling in your sleep,

yet again.  I have no regret to halt my fleeing soul,

only a parting wish that the Bharata flag flies high.

I leave a seed in a widowed womb.

 

 Uchchaihśravas

 Uccaihśravasamaśvānām viddhimām amrtodbhavam

manoj

Manoj Samanta’s Sculpture

In a single wave of mustang light, he rises,

seven headed equine prototype, neighing

thevedas.From the churning ocean of milk,

he ascends in a ring of white light; wings flapping,

he travels the skies with the speed of thought.

 

Hypostasising a myriad myths, he rears

in thunder, parting the air, to wage some

cosmogonical war with wind, rain and sleet

in his tossing mane. Mighty muzzle, dripping

immortal elixir, battling the anger of serpent fumes,

the light spirit dances with the stars.

Jubilant as the moon, the rainbow wingèd,

bejewelled horse blows in cosmic cloud.

Sky wrapped, he roams the void, as a sleeping

god wakes to create yet another world.

 

Each god lays claim to him, each demon.

Knight of Valhalla, eight legged, rune toothed,

shaman stallion, lending his wings to Asgard’s gods

Sun gods fastenhim to their chariots of fire

that circle the earth from dawn to dusk.

Progeny of monstrous blood and the seed

of a water god, he rises again from the waves

of a boundless sea, whinnying litanies

to the heavens. With wind-whipped mane,

astride on a blazing fire of ballads, he spirals

in the milky oceans of distant galaxies.

 

As time wakes up from his dormant egg,

the white horse flies in the minds of men,

shedding legends from his flaxen forelock,

his jewelled hoofs, his golden bridle,

his blazingrubied eyes. They lay wagers

on his tail, black serpents eclipse him

as he traipses the horizons.

They sacrifice him relentlessly

at their altars of fire-

  • Kingdoms for a horse    –

 

They callhim river spirit, enshrine him in

temples and try to tame the forever free.

He perches on their flags, battles for

centuries and becomes their lyrical muse,

trumpeting pastoral symphonies.

 

He will ride again at the end of time as saviour,

hero, god figure, in a ring of white light-

– From death to life, from awareness to

existence, from darkness to light –

Uccaihśravas, sacred steed of the mind, fly with me!

 

 

  (Uccaihśravasamaśvānām viddhimām amrtodbhavam: translated from Sanskrit as –

Among horses, perceive me as Uccaihśravas, born of amrita. {10.27,The Bhagavad Gita.}

Indian born Usha Kishore is an award winning British poet andusha translator. Usha is internationally published and anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press and Harper Collins among others.    Her poetry has won prizes in UK Poetry competitions, has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School syllabi.Usha is the author of two poetry collections: On Manannan’s Isle (dpdotcom, UK, 2014) and Night Sky between the Stars (Cyberwit India, 2015).  Translations of the Divine Woman, a translation of Kalidasa’sSyamaladandakam was published in Dec, 2015(Rasala India).

www.ushakishore.co.uk