Walk of Fame and Fortune

Standing on the parapet, I see
The whole street, washed and clean.
In front of every doorway, every grille,
A red saree is hunched over a red circle
Doodling chita designs in rice paste:
Lotuses and jasmines,
Peacocks and elephants,
Coconuts and kumbhas,
Cowries and clouds,
And those left-right-left lotus feet
Walking from the doodled circle,
Up the steps to the doorway.
You see, we believe Goddess Lakshmi
Directs fame and fortune to walk in,
Left-right-left along these feet
Every Thursday of the Margasira month.

There’s a doorway conspicuously empty,
Where yesterday a white saree had lain
And where everyone had agreed aloud
That the names of Rama and Hari were True.
Where her red circle should have shined,
There now is a trapezoid of tessellations:
Illumination through the latticework
Of the skylight in the front room,
Where a bulb has been left on
For twelve nights of mourning.
You see, we believe the dead linger.
They take some time to move on.
The light is our way of saying we know
That they are here and they can stay
In our hearts for as long as they like.
We take some time to move on too.

No feet emerge from the latticed light.

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