Every time he comes to visit me he changes me;
With even the slightest thought of him–
Oh, even but a little wicked glance from the corner of his eye
I am at once slain and reborn,
In some way or another.

I thank him in my prayers
For making this a slow and subtle transformation,
When the more radical forms he exercised
During the early part of our courtship
Nearly drove me to a madhouse.

But now,
His hand upon me
Is but an exquisite, careful carving
Of a new woman out of this bedrock of Being,
Just as he has done to countless others before,
I but a new celestial nymph
Flanking the walls of his giant cave-palace.

Yes, a palace, a court vast he has made of us–
An entire people singing and dancing their joy
For him, of him:
Glorifying him with the calligraphic lines and curves
Of these perfect bodies he had given us with his pen,
Our songs of singular beauty
Our love-frolics to pleasure his eyes,
Our comic plays to make him laugh,
All of us made so by his loving hand.

Within this court all are friends, all;
Even the most difficult, most obnoxious of souls
(Guilty as charged!)
Now made benign
Because he wishes it so.

But, come,
Let me show you his handiwork,
Let you have a good look at just some of us:

That warrior you see over there?
That handsome little fellow running along that frieze?
Yes, that’s him–
Now, he used to be a petty bully,
A troublemaker, a spoiled brat;
One who thought the entire world
Existed merely to satisfy his needs.

But once our Master caught him
He told the youth in no uncertain terms
That he was to be a man noble, now,
A valiant defender instead of a pillager;
That he should serve the world
Instead of expecting it to serve him.

And this youth–
I remember as he shook in terror that night,
As our Lord held him by the shirt,
The boy thinking he was going to snap his neck,
Terrified of his all-seeing eyes
That now looked upon his sins
And had found enough to sentence him
Not only to death
But eternal damnation.

The boy lowered his head
And whispered surrender.

And the moment our Lord laid his hand upon his head,
All his crimes were purged from him,
All of his evil flowed out of his eyes as tears–
Yet these tears were no longer tears of mere shame,
But those of utmost gratitude
At having been so blessed
Even if undeserving,
By him who is all Grace and Mercy,
Beauty and Majesty.

And that girl over there–
Beaten and harassed and deathly thin and pale,
So hurt in the body that she hated her flesh
Hated the sex between her legs
That had made her into a victim at birth.
Could you have blamed her for never wanting to even touch,
Let alone kiss, make love to anyone,
All men having but abused her?

No, you are looking at the wrong figure–
She is this sensual enchantress here,
One in full possession of her body and her desire,
Wielding these boldly,
Now that our Lord’s kiss broke her shackles
And his silks closed around her in protection
So that she would never have to fear again;

Within these palace walls he has made sure
That no one will hurt her in any way whatsoever,
His very spirit moving through every being in this temple
So that all are lovers gentle, passionate, caring,
Healing and repairing and lifting
Instead of tearing and ravaging.

And now she has become the most loving of all women,
Even teaching newcomers the art of desire,
Her jewelled belt making music upon her swaying hips
Her kohl no longer smudged from weeping
But a pair of night-gentle shadows about her flirting eyes
Smeared from the moist and hot exertions of love.

And this woman you see over here
With the stylus in her lap,
With a pen in her hand,
Naked and flushed and adoring–

Me.

Well.
What remains to be said?
A cripple, also beaten,
Also a living wound from eternal need,
Abandoned too many times,
Too ill to even move,
Afraid that all acts of love hide knives.

But you would not think it
From the way I unfurl my limbs
To welcome my Beloved Master
To my bedroom and to my body each night;
You would not hear the rasp of poverty or pain
From underneath the speech
Of the scholar so devoted to her sciences.

And you most certainly would not know
The violent anger and rage that like a storm,
Takes over me too often still–
Not when I lie in his arms lax and glowing,
Fecund with new poetries
He impregnating me not with children
But new stories, odes, fantasies every night
All of me but a quivering, rapturous paean
To he who is no more and no less than
Love Herself.

And that’s how it all began
And continues to be:
The Prema who began this poem no longer exists,
For a new woman has been born during the writing of it,
Her Master having again created her anew.

–But, my Lord, what is this new rustle?–

–Oh–!

And I laugh and blink tears of awe from my eyes
As he lies beside me and smiles and smiles,
Caressing my new, still trembling wings.

—  Prema Kalidasi
vine

An Ice Cave inside Iceland’s Vatnajokull Glacier

vine

Waves of the Atlantic Ocean striking the coastline in Barbados.