Today, per Hindu tradition,
in anticipation of an auspicious ritual,
they oiled and cleaned
their bodies, the floor, the walls. But it was not enough to clean only these things
so they burned agarbathi
to heal all remaining wounds with an aroma.
Spirals of smoke in the prayer room curled
like her toes.
A red dot between her brows.
The arches of her brows sweating less than her arched back.
A red dot between her legs,
blooming like the marigold flowers
hanging in the adjacent room.
Her heavy wooden door is closed and locked.
Down the hall
the aging priest sprinkles patterns of white powder onto the mosaic floor,
while repeating the line
Shivam shivakaram shantham.
He accepts the herculean task
of transforming a room
used for eating
into a room fit for the sitting red body of Shiva,
with knee caps the size of rounded boulders facing out
and the bottoms of his feet touching.
Dreadlocks, thick as pythons, snaking down his cavernous back,
each individual lock curling onto the mosaic floor,
as if settling into a deep slumber.
She cannot hear the
Shivam shivakaram shantham
but she is bent backwards in her own prayer.
A silver sickle sent down from the heavens
like a fishing line,
hooked through her belly button
lifting her up, stomach first.
Her long strands of black hair
press into her white sheets
and so great is the pressure
that a fossil emerges in her wake.
The priest prepares prasada in a silver bowl.
She prepares a sweeter prasad,
for what tastier dish will you find than that in your local Temple?
Do not speak to her of resurrection when her body knows how to be born again and again