The good earth will swallow them whole

The good earth will swallow them whole

Published in Corvid Queen 2022

2 minute read

I have grown to love my life among these trees, 
the speckled confetti of mango blossoms wafting 

on the summer breeze, my forest home 
draped in the scent of sandalwood, koels 

flitting in the green, a shapeshifting music 
soothing the waters of the restless Tamsa. 

The sediment of this river is a liniment on 
my feet, softer than the richest rugs I once 

walked upon. I have grown to embrace
the wilderness over the comforts of the palace, 

the flesh of a wild pear so much more luscious
than the sweetmeats my ladies-in-waiting 

placed before me in a bygone time, when
I was a much loved and extolled queen. 

My sons run along the river, growing stronger
by the day, burgeoning into young men of 

high mind and heart, and I pray that they will
know how to embody honor, not let their ears 

be poisoned, hearts swayed by vipers’ tongues
like their hapless father was. In this peaceful 

haven, I am one with the banyan and the peepal, 
the compassionate trellis they hold above 

my head, shielding me from the heavens 
and its prejudiced Gods that denied 

me justice. I am the daughter of the Earth, 
who walked through fire to prove my chastity,

the sanctity of my heart to a doubting husband,
banished, because it wasn’t enough to placate 

those with the power to dictate my fate. 
Now I am truly at peace, my boundaries 

drawn with their world. And if they ever 
venture into my realm, with him leading 

the way, telling me that I can return as 
his consort if I sit aloft another flaming pyre, 

to prove yet again the purity of my body and 
soul, I will split the ground on which they stand, 

watch them plummet through—and 
the good earth will swallow them whole.