I lie at night on the floor
next to the bed my parents share.
My quarry hammer and my thick black hair
serve as my pillow. Still, I find sleep
and dream the Mahabharata.
I am Ganga. My hair shines
and winds through the land.
Women weave flowers in its length.
I am the patient enemy
of Sagarmatha. Bit by bit,
I cut and carve and ruin.
My handsome husband, King Shantanu,
smiles upon me, calls me beautiful,
loves me. I bear his children. I break his heart
by giving them to the river,
setting them free.
I wake when my father stumbles
from bed in the still dark morning,
his foot is gentle in its nudge
upon my back. I rub my eyes
and run calloused fingers
through the mountain dust
that clings to my hair.
Take my hammer.
First appeared in The Homestead Review - Spring 2016
This poem was written for Indira after seeing her photograph in the amazing "Where Children Sleep" presentation.