Friday, February 19, 2016

Incense

         for Sarika Singh


         In a large lecture hall in Denver, she spoke of the lifelong painting of tangkhas - a living with the sacred.  It lifts you, painter or observer, out of dailiness, accepts mortality.

***

      An Indian art, mother of Asia, no longer in India.

      Caves bear witness.

***

      One of the six Indians present said: the caste system is gone.  We have places reserved, in each university, for shudras.  Like America.

      How many of you are of shudra ancestry, she asked?

      No one raised her hand

      How many brahmans?


________

                                        

If you marry a Buddhist

and you are an outcaste


Brahmans burn

are you accepted

incense if you are present

as an equal

are you a shudra

DJ Ambedkar

yes

if you are fighting


avoid your presence

clean up their shit

even a wind’s breath


for opportunity


they did not


no matter how smart

no matter how hardworking

no matter how beautiful


(they might rape you)

you must stand aside

burn incense

ritual

open sewer


they will use force

as in Mississippi


drove Buddhists out

as if there were a hope


of India long centuries

ago


said W.E.B. Dubois

a brahman

burning a big

pile of incense

a bonpyre


that even their ashes

in the Ganga


could be clean







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