Kamala danced in the candlelight.
Who did not love her perfect form?
As the tintara droned while the khajiri counted tal
Her shadow twisted among the marble columns
Brushing their eyes with secret delight
While her songs of sringara and viraha
Summoned nava rasas like servants of a raj.
Each man thought she danced only for him
Each man kept his blade close at hand
To protect the jewels he brought for Kamala.
A shanai cries like a child alone in a dark room
Caressing a flower to her face.
Her body becoming water and life,
Kamala prayed before the nataraja
That the Nameless One, face covered in ash,
Might make for her bursting heart, the sharanam.
"Shayad. Shayad. Shayad."
Each one spoke in turn to her uplifted gaze.
They touched her lips tenderly
Cupping the curves of her breast
Pushing the falling hair from her begging eyes
Then passed the seedcake to the one that followed.
Calloused feet fall hard in the temple.
Tears will not fall from silent eyes
Spotted like an aging face unveiled to the summer sun
Kamala does not sing beneath the parasol.
Dust gathers on the mirror as patjhar become sardii.
Yet in the unforgiving moonlight of Holi
Among the crumbling marble columns of an empty house
Old men place flowers where the devadasi who became sharii sleeps.