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Poetry

Mussoorie, India

Lying on the bed below you,
I never managed to ask you to pray
for us, or to see you weep the blood
you’re famous for. I just loved to stare—

and you didn’t seem to mind—
at your barely blushing cheekbones, lit
by the angel’s glow. You warmed me
with your incandescent eyelids

and the light—keen as sunburn—
that sears you as you turn your face
with a whisper that is always “yes.”
I miss your smile in this place

where grinning Hanumans and resplendent
Ganeshas peer out from every corner.
Their half-human eyes unnerve me.
Where are you now, in some dusty box,

your twelve images growing daily more obsolete?
Where are your faint halos gathering dust,
as this car careens past a truck-bed
heaped with lions and goddesses?

I miss you, in a land wealthy with deity, miss
the comfort of a saint, of knowing that even
under centuries of immaculate
makeup, you were history, flesh, blood.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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