Rain in Wisconsin reminds
me of rain in Kashmir,
when my mother was young.
She made a special kind of rice cake.

July rain was good for crops, 
for fruit, and the wild grasses
that grew behind our house
in an abandoned yard.
There were three weeping willows.

Their fingery leaves brushed against
amber waters at dawn, 
at dusk my mother lit an oil lamp.

Set it on a ledge near 
the west window, praying
to the setting sun.
It is repentance, she said,
not prayer. To brighten his path.

Perhaps it will lead someone's
wandering step away from error,
to home, to his wife.
The tiny cotton wick
was too small, weakly flickering
in the wind. What good would
it do? I thought.

When it was dark,
she removed the lamp.
Put it in front of an icon.
The light lit up eyes
of a goddess, blue black.
The bloodied skulls 
she wore for a necklace, 
her flame red tongue.
Thin hands with long fingers.

July rain still falls in Kashmir
gently like tears of a mother
whose daughters turned against her.
Whose sons forgot her


© Lalita Pandit, July 18, 1997

Priya - Bride in red - The city of dread
Sukeshi has a dream - The rishi - Self spectre

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