Why God fucks us
A moment ago, I was wondering where I was.
I was holding my legs, my arms around them.
I sit like this so often, head resting on knees.
God finds me in this pose, and leaves me to sulk.
I suppose then I get angry and chase Him down,
and He can’t be found anywhere.
He knows He is torturing me, and He laughs.
So, I go into the kitchen to make curry, and while I am slicing onions
and crying, He comes up behind me and caresses my breasts.
It’s good that He’s impervious to the knife in my hand.
I suppose that I could have told Him to go away,
but it’s God after all, and I like it against the kitchen wall.
He likes this too, and I am hoping that I will not lose all of me
or stab anything that shouldn’t be stabbed with a kitchen knife
while He is having me. He is here again?
Chasing doesn’t work, so I stand here, being a woman,
and I am lucky that way. Do men wish they’d invented a goddess?
Instead of the guy in robes? Maybe, I don’t know.
Does God like it that He’s a guy?
Yes. Why else would He fuck us all so often?
I couldn’t look at the river anymore
so I drove north to Rockland Lake.
I passed the hospital, where Oak Hill cemetery
presses close to the road. I passed Hook Mountain
where it broods over the Tappan Zee,
and I drove to the far side of the lake, where in old times
men had cut and hauled blocks of
ice from its clear hard surface.
I parked the car and stayed in it. I looked at
the ice. I thought about the hook in my
watery place, the new-conceived baby,
the ill-conceived affair, and how I was
now caught where the darkness pressed close
and thought about going to a clinic for an abortion.
Then the thread of my thought, which
had been unraveling from some invisible seam
near my right shoulder, grew taut. I looked around.
I pulled my arm forward, but it wouldn’t
give any more. I went back home.
Durga threw up in the bathroom this morning a second time, and she was tired. She went through the bathroom cabinets looking for the Sea-Bands. She found them. She went to the radio on the counter and turned it on. Madonna was dressing him up in her love, which sounded good. Durga moved a little, catching the beat. The nausea lifted a little. A little meant a lot. She turned up Madonna a little louder. “All over your body,” singing salty sex in a pregnant soupiness.
She looked at the Sea-Bands and felt disgust. Another drawer, where was the vibrator? Durga put a hand on her hip and rummaged. No, not there. She searched another shelf and then went to their bedroom. Mahish’s bedside drawer was locked. Why locked? she wondered in annoyance. The diaphragm, who cares? But the vibrator too.
She walked back to the bathroom and put a Sea-Band on her wrist. It pressed her acupressure points. She couldn’t imagine it helping. The nausea swept in again with the Air Supply song playing now. She moaned softly, put her head down on the cool counter and then a conch shell appeared in her hand. She put it to her lips and blew and felt a vibration start inside it and end in her whole body.
Another Sea-Band on her second wrist, and now a sword appeared in her grip. Shining like the sea, and sharp as seawater in a cut, it gleamed a power to open the drawer by splitting it in two. Durga chuckled, knowing she wouldn’t have to since she already had the conch.
Next Sea-Band, on her third wrist, brought a chakra, blowing a cooling breeze on her hot flushed pregnant face. Another Sea-Band and a bow appeared, stretched taut like her belly, stretched out like Kama’s bow. It shot, taking out Mahish, who was in his study. She didn’t notice.
A Sea-Band on another wrist, and now the scepter, like a trident. To rule over the tides of this nausea? she wondered. And on her last arm, the Sea-Band’s plastic nubs pressed her wrist, twisting her hand up—a mudra. Her hand opened out and away from her, away
from her belly
a tiny dream.
The mudra lifted from her hip to her navel. Then Durga felt a muscular body under her thighs. A tiger moved there, sleekly.
Climbing of a tree
“When a woman, having placed one of her feet on the foot of her lover, and the other on one of his thighs, passes one of her arms round his back, and the other on his shoulders, makes slightly the sounds of singing and cooing, and wishes, as it were, to climb up him in order to have a kiss, it is called an embrace like the ‘climbing of a tree.’”
—from The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, tr. by Sir Richard Burton
Once, half way up your thigh,
my calf twisted around yours
while my hands clasped behind your ears
like the tender tendril ends
of wisteria, leaves still
Now I am chopping these down
whole woody coils fall
each time I stop to cover my face
and cry. I feel them,
lying heavily on the ground
and dragging as I walk.
I smell them, living green,
and they coat my hands, sticky sweet.
Kodaikanal vacations of my childhood
Minakshi steps demurely over the Vaigai River and proceeds firmly out of town toward the Palni Hills. She gets tired of the sweltering heat in her palatial temple on the plain. We follow her between the rows of tamarind trees to the place where the road starts to climb. She takes the short way up, a graceful leap, and she arrives at the beautiful lake, where the air is thin with altitude. We drive up the winding road, past fruit stands, forests of eucalyptus and waterfalls.
When we arrive, she is standing waist-deep in waterlilies, making garlands for herself by dipping her body into the water. We hire horses and ride around the lake, looking at her from every angle in this mountain-place. She reveals herself here, in the cool air closer to the burning sun.
We visit Coaker’s walk and gaze at the plain in the evening, when the electric lights flicker on as the heat lets off. Shiva winks at her from there, we notice. Minakshi laughs brightly behind us and leaps over us, gliding down on everything.
Sometimes a jam jar full of jam
and jam is spilled on the floor.
My children asked me to write a poem
about that because it happened just
after I read a poem at their school
about my jam jar filled with peppercorns.
I am writing this in pencil
because I cannot bear to spill
or have it spilled indelibly
And how can I write it this way
for my children? Do they know yet
about the indelible stains?
The sharpness of glass
in blueberry jam?
They saw it with their own eyes today,
and they chortled with delight
because I write.
A. Anupama is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, The Bitter Oleander, CutBank, and elsewhere. She studied at Northwestern University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in writing. She currently organizes literary community and is a founding editor of the literary journal River River, riverriver.org, and a Contributor at Numéro Cinq. She lives and writes in Nyack, New York. Find her musing at seranam.com.