Reading: Ode To The Walking Woman by Tishani Doshi

Tishani Doshi (b. 1975) is an Indian writer, dancer and journalist. I read a lyrical song inspired by a statuie by Alberto Giacometti.

Ode to the walking woman

(After Alberto Giacometti )

Sit –
you must be tired
of walking,
of losing yourself
this way:
a bronzed rib
of exhaustion
thinned out
against the dark.
Sit –
there are still things
to believe in;
like civilizations
and birthing
and love.
And ancestors
who move
like silent tributaries
from red-earthed villages
with history cradled
in their mythical arms.
But listen,
what if they swell
through the gates
of your glistening city?
Will you walk down
to the water’s edge,
immerse your feet
so you can feel them
dancing underneath?
Mohenjodaro’s brassy girls
with bangled wrists
and cinnabar lips;
turbaned Harappan mothers
standing wide
on terracotta legs;
egg-breasted Artemis –
Inana, Isthar, Cybele, clutching their bounteous hearts
in the unrepentant dark,
crying: ‘Daughter,
where have the granaries
and great baths disappeared?
Won’t you resurrect yourself,
make love to the sky,
reclaim the world.’

Giacometti’s woman has walked long enough. She may sit down now. We can still believe in our most fundamental creations. The poem focuses on the ancestors who hold history in their mythical arms. She describes these ancestors so beautifully, as they are dancing underneath. The brassy girls with bangled wrists and cinnabar lips, the turband mothers with their terracotta legs. And it all just works in English. It sounds magical, ancestral.
The ancestors cry out to the daughters: Do not forsake us. Resurrect yourself, reclaim the world.

Doshi’s poetry is refreshing; I also like her poem ‘the river of girls‘.

Walking woman

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