I would never wish to be a shadow of myself,
A speck of a ghost flickering across
The lower chin of the sun.
Call that beauty spot-
Barely visible to the naked eye,
Indistinguishable from other dots
Dissolving in the galaxies?
I am the goddess of love and beauty-
Identified with Aphrodite, emblem of fecundity,
Invoked to turn the hearts
Of women to virtue and chastity-
Sprung from the foam of the sea,
Daughter of Jupiter, wide of Vulcan.
With the mighty Mars,
gods and demigods have I had affairs;
Cupid and Aeneas I count among my sons.
I am Hesperus, the evening star —
the second planet from the sun.
I am the spark that inspires wonder,
not this darkness; from my bright centre,
I survey luminous skies: the horizon
mere limitation of human perception.
Nothing in this dream existence of ours
can move too close or too far
from its given place in the universe.
Then must I learn to align myself every
few hundred years for this ceremony —
let my dark image be observed
by half the earth’s population
that cannot breathe in my atmosphere?
Placed as I am, there is no option,
no choice to figure out what goes on
in the universe except what I have been
chosen to bring to the party
—laughter, music, dance, pleasure, poetry…
Having tied strings on trees, walls, stones,
wished on the new moon, fallen eyelashes,
tossed coins in rivers, fountains, wells,
sometimes over my head and shoulder
in more places I care to remember;
Circled several times the sacred scarab,
climbed mountains, hugged pillars, statues;
kissed icons, shrouds, Shiva linga,
images of gods, goddesses, saints;
fasted on different days of the week, prayed
to the moon, sun and all the divine powers,
lighted candles in churches, cathedrals,
folded my palms in prayer in temples,
knelt reverently in mosques and pagodas —
I have learnt that wishes are milestones
on our journey back home.
Nothing disappears without a trace,
only our pilgrimage transforms as we learn
to celebrate our brief passage with grace…
SHANTA ACHARYA. Works as an Investment Manager in the City of London. Her publications include The Influence of Indian Thought on Ralph Waldo Emerson and the two poetry collection, Not This, Not That and Numbering Our Day’s Illusions.