Two Poems

    By Maya Sriram

    Chthonic goddess

    Armed with sceptre and corn
    and cornucopia and pomegranate.
    She answers to many names.
    Ninmah, Tellus,Houtu,
    Pachamama, Umay
    Rhea, Ops, Gaia,
    Bhudevi
    Womb goddess, mother goddess
    Queen of the earth.
    There is a certain cunning
    In casting her as a goddess.
    Every one knows
    that goddess have to be
    munificent and benevolent and kind
    And are bound by prayers.
    Goddess are vulnerable
    And made predictable by their
    Goddess-ness.
    What better way to bind
    The strong, whimsical, capricious
    Earth and her seething core?
    Now, earth is a goddess.
    A strong powerful form
    And Man sees a female presence,
    A woman.
    He smacks his lips
    And strips layers and layers
    Of her silky brown skin.
    Saws off her green billowing , nurturing hair
    And muddies her royal- blue blood.
    Avaricious, rapacious, lustful.
    He forgets the seething liquid core
    That , when pushed too far,
    Like an avenging deity,
    bursts forth in
    Large tsunami waves
    And angry tremors,
    Destroying him and his world in
    The blink of his eye.
    An old tale tells of
    Bhooma Devi who in a frantic union
    WIth a beastial god
    gave birth to a Monster
    There is a lesson here.
    Man thinks the female body
    Is his to rape, pillage, plunder, conquer.
    Perhaps we should have called earth Father.
    The punishing, the harsh the patriarch.
    The angry god breathing fire .
    Then perhaps,
    earth would have been saved.

    EARTH

    If you link your spirits together
    Tread softly and call her gently,
    in peace.
    She will reveal her secrets.

    Like a dancer of many veils,
    Teasing, tantalising and testing.
    If you hold, you will reap her fruit.

    She will take you through her forests,
    luscious green, fecund and ripe;
    The Japanese have a name for this
    shinrin-yoku. Forest walking.

    And then she drops her veil
    Shows you her rain- washed self,
    fragrant with life.
    The Greeks have a word for this
    Petrichor
    Stone with the liquid
    From the veins of Gods.

    Beyond,
    She will show you
    A great beauty in the barren.
    Where silky scorching time
    slips through your fingers.
    She will walk with you
    Amongst peaks and gorges and dunes
    And will let to quench your thirst
    At her green oasis.
    There is life here.
    She hides them under her shifting sands
    Away from a punishing sky.

    She can be majestic too,
    In her snowy aloofness
    Yet , she lets you wander
    through her valleys and river gorges,
    Her glaciers and up her jagged peaks
    Where she reaches out
    To kiss the sky

    There is this ugly word
    That becomes a refrain
    When we talk of her –
    Conquer, conquer, conquer,

    Push her too hard
    And she will conquer
    With her molten heat
    That she buries deep within her.
    That unleashed fury
    Will leave a flaming trail
    Destroying all in its wake.

    Maya Sharma Sriram is an award-winning writer and poet. She has read her work at many events, including the 10,000 Poets for Change and the Pondicherry Poetry Festival 2019. Her poem was included in ?Voices in Time?, and was short-listed in the All India Poetry competition conducted by the Poetry Society of India. She won the Elle Fiction award and was long listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She is the author of the novel ?Bitch Goddess for Dummies.

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