by Sithuraj Ponraj
Rama's wife: like the earth (her mother)
was a delight to all five senses. Her skin
was brown, more supple than
Ganges mud. Warm and sweet smelling as the ground under jackfruit trees at sunset.
Perhaps it was lust:
that I wanted to scoop her up and slake
a stubborn thirst, with twenty trembling hands. Anoint her like perfume on my chest.
Or place her on my shoulders,
her feet as red as slender fish
that dart across dark ponds.
But it was not to be.
For fate was a tyrant and her marriage too:
That she would hold up her husband
as a mirror to my soul.
And say the shadows were cold spaces
Too distant to be crossed.
But my road was set, as surely as Rama's bow. We were twin axes to the crystal
That was Sita, never to coincide.
There would come doubters
Who would later debate if I had touched her
Or just the ground under her feet
as I carried her away.
They do not know that I continue
to carry Sita like a potent curse
As I did that day she laughed,
at the last battle
When I fell maimed but eager still
To embrace her shadow and the earth.
This is the winner of First Prize in Cha's "Addiction" Poetry Contest. Sithuraj Ponraj on "Ravana":
My poem “Ravana” is about the character of the same name in the Indian epic Ramayana. Ravana of ten heads lusts after Rama’s wife Sita and kidnaps her to Lanka after tricking Rama with the help of a rakshasha-demon disguised as a golden deer. Rama crosses the ocean with the help of a monkey army and defeats Ravana to free Sita. The poem is a meditation on how Sita becomes an addiction for Ravana, an object of constant craving that cannot be shaken off—even though as a learned scholar of the scriptures he knows that the path of lust would eventually lead to his doom.