From what generation to what generation
Is this journey?
And I am like this:
What I contain all brightness and all darkness
Why do I bear this dead skin,
From under what seer’s beard
came this insomnia,
this hypnotic coma
And this face of mine, found in an excavation
is faithful to what connection?
…and this flock of white swans
Flying up in the sky
This burning vineyard of skinless grapes
What place should be set afire?
In what kitchen was this body made-
A “pure” one?
And this flock of white swans…
All this as if fused together.
How much of this romantic nonsense:
“ I want to paint your picture
I want to sing you a poem
I want to fill my eyes with you
I want to marry you.”
Go on walking around the sun flowers
and then quench their sun faces.
You are from that ageless tradition.
But how can I call you a poison girl?
Why are you faithful to
that skeleton found in an excavation?
Turn your dust smeared face this way
And salvage these lives,
a stone lying in the bazaar.
I don’t know why, girl,
But I see in you an ancient skeleton
thousands of years old,
found in an excavation…
The primal bond of the universe
which blesses the phenomenon
is forming in you.
Translated by Jayant Karve and Eleanor Zelliot
Translator’s notes:Poison girl refers to an ancient story of women who were fed poison slowly until they could kill anyone who slept with them while tolerating the poison themselves. A stone in the bazaar refers to the classical story of Ahilya, turned to stone by a curse and awakening only to the touch of Rama’s foot. The translators’ interpretation of this poem is that it is addressed to a Brahman girl who represents traditional India.