Rumour claims it should not be kept
within a home, but it sits now in our spare
room, brass-wrought cobra braced
at its back. I see it, often enough, during prayer,
spent my youth waiting for fissures to cleave
all stirps: a beak to breach soot-soft shell
when my mother doused it in milk. An offering,
perhaps, for feather-pitch creature—happy
to live lineage unknown, settle
in palm for hymns repeated. I have not yet
held it but know it won’t yet yield.
Could I crush with it my migratory history
—pluck dirt-dark plumage from my breast—
my dun body would, incarnated, re
-main, aniconism marked for gods
alone. I know not what comes after
annihilation, only that my mother prays
we have strength enough for flight.


Shastra Deo reads 'Shivling'