Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today I saw Sri Radha

Today I saw Sri Radha.
I watched her walking on the path
between Javat and Nanda Gaon.
Her head was uncovered
and her braid dangled behind her
like a python from the branches of a tree.

Like all Vrajavasis,
her easy gait was quick
as she sped to Nandishwar.
She was fast as Garuda, faster than the mind,
followed by a flock of golden Garudas,
surrounded by a sky of lightning strokes
in the dry landscape.

Too fast to talk they almost trot,
their ghaghras behind them streak
like starry, mirrored flags of passion.

The jingling of anklebells,
the tinkling of laughter,
the risque barbs and teasing,
the bits and bribes of songs
trail them like a cloud.

Radha is going to cook
at Yasho Rani’s house
and I struggle to keep up.

Years of aching wishes
caressed that sight.
I felt you there in that smaran;
we watched Rai Kishori's bobbing braids
and the flowing, mocking rainbow
of her friends.

The morning sun has suddenly begun
to pour its heat on Nandagaon.
The dust powder is so fine
you can almost taste it on your tongue
where Rai has touched it with her toes.

And then, against the sun-stained walls,
baked like pueblos on the flattened sky,
Kahnai casts his cooling cloud,
shyam shadow light.

He loiters by the yellow gate,
his arm resting on Subal’s arm.
In one hand he slowly twirls a flower,
nonchalant, as a cowherd prince should be.

Saying nothing, he devours
Radha with his eyes.

She pulls her veil over her head.
She turns her head shyly, slow,
slyly giving him a crooked glance,
shy enough to make him want to dance.

She quivers, trembles, she is unnerved,
his gaze is unwavering and strong.
Do we have to go this way, she asks,
is there no other door?
Afraid she’ll trip, Lalita grabs her hand.
Watch your feet, she says. Watch your mind.

Krishna's gaze does not break,
as if this is the first time
these four bee-like eyes have ever met.
And yet it is--their every glance
a first Cupid arrow fired,
another first wave in eternity.

I bathed in all of that today, and the sight
has filled my every pore.
And now, at night, I feel you pervading me
like Vraja's rasika sun,
bhava and prema, liquid light,
inundate my core.

Here I chant the Holy Name,
these flames pervade my heart and brain.
I see the Yugala's everlasting play
and you pervade my every vein.

This is us and this is them;
it’s a disgrace people will say,
but I don’t see a difference any more.
It's become a sadharani-karan
of two, this time, not one.

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