Two Poems

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.