A Conversation on India through Photography and Poetry: An evening celebrating the culture of India featuring photographs by Brenda Gottlieb and poems by Kathryn Lane
—Lowell Mick White, author of That Demon Life
An older woman drawing art
at her doorstep says
it is auspicious,
a daily ritual, to paint
floor art, wall art,
decorating courtyards, doorways---
a colorful welcome for visitors.
The lines, she says, must be continuous, unbroken,
to ward off evil spirits, appease deities,
invite all things beautiful to her home.
Rice flour is an offering to Lakshmi,
and serves to feed ants and ravens.
For festivals, Rangoli is painted at sacred spots
where prayer is practiced.
Geometrical patterns, Lakshmi’s footprints,
a lotus flower, coconut and mango leaves,
designs of elephants or horses, eagles and swans,
all embraced in a circle, finger paintings,
using natural dyes --- tree bark, rose petals, indigo,
or simple chalk lines, folk art, I can bring home
to welcome family, friends and even deities.
I stood in both sunlight and moonlight,
watching brightness and counterglow
play the marble, change the mood,
a cool breeze flirting with a symbol
enduring beyond Mughal rule.
At sunset, from the banks of the Yamuna river,
I saw its golden glow, through polluted air
and the smoky haze of funeral pyres,
echoing ghosts of a thousand elephants who hauled
slabs of marble, baskets of onyx and white clay for mortar.
I rose before sunrise to see the dome
awakening, radiant, symmetrical,
surrounded by four silent sentries,
and gardens --- so lush, to shield
squalor beyond sandstone walls.
By moonlight I witnessed silvery shadows
obscuring seductive curlicue script, floral designs
in turquoise, sapphire, lapis and carnelian.
Shooting past the dome, a falling star flew by ---
falling just for you.