Dark, dark–we can’t make the room dark enough
to deceive her small and unsleeping self.
She sings like bottled silver in the dark,
and silence only proves she is not light-safe,
unseen, onrushing, glancing herself awake.
He comes to fix the darkness he has made,
our slim Israeli handyman named Gad.
A crocus light leaks round him at the equinox,
until the floor is freaked purple and gold.
The bold sun climbs past Doctor Shade. Light speaks;
it rises like her blonde hair to the comb,
crackling in spurts of Pentecostal flame
around her head, which summons to its work
the language of evolving self and time.
On her brow in the garden was a mark
of saffron (I watched from the shadows today):
moist as the petal-sheath, as veined and milky.
So Brahma once from his own body struck
a daughter and grew four faces, so he
could look at her and yet not seem to look.
2. A Prayer to Ganesh
for Mike Tompkins
On West 96th Street, outside the Ayurveda Center,
dirty snow still dimples the god’s bronze thighs
where he sits, plump as a gulab-jamun in rosewater,
a delight to his mother Parvati in her cave of ice.
First-worshipped, fashioned out of her skin’s gold dander,
lord of servants and elephant-headed keeper of doorways,
liminal god between the past and the future
who removes obstacles or sets them in place,
smiling portmanteau god, who, in father and mother,
found and circled the entire universe,
incline toward me the gray fan of your ear.
Return him from the exile of Lord Siva’s
terrible rage for intelligence and order,
from the shakti of a mother who never dies.
Bring him back from where the Ganga threads from the glacier.
Release him from the discipline of his prayers,
from the loneliness of his concentration, or
make me the single mind equal to his,
though I write with a broken tusk on birch-bark, far
from the fields of eternal balance where he is.