Archives‎ > ‎Issue Six‎ > ‎

Uma Gowrishankar

At The Moment Of Death: Bardo 1

In the well of your dark eyes I sink; gasp, suck air
from the squeamish depth of my choked lung.

In the space between the walls when I slip away
I weave images of beautiful sunrise, surging energy waves

as fine threads of a million channels collapse into centre.
The string of breath rises to the soft point on my head

where my mother kissed and caressed at my birth,
ran her fingers lovingly and prayed life remain sealed in.

Now the air pops like a bubble on my soda, and car mirror
holds the blinding light as long as I grab a meal – only so long.

_______________________

Chikhai Bardo is a liminal state when breath stops at death time.


Dissolution: Bardo 2

Smoke curls mesmerizing, blurs her standing there
by the door legs astride – guarding, menacing if a thing moved,

a leaf stirred; face swollen with grief, throat sore with wailing.
Pale moonlight steals through the window over my bed – mattress

folded away, planks of teak ripped. And the cotton from my pillow
mists the candle light on the table where no food is laid,

the bottle of milk in fridge put away. Where is my dinner,
where are my blue pyjamas? Is my grief nothing?

Does he not notice the moons in my toe nail when he bends
to rake the fire? I reach to touch him through the lights

that blind, a psychedelic mayhem that terrifies-captivates
in a sickening alternation through the night dark as sin where

every curve of thought, every angle of memory grows arms,
flails like tentacles of anemones stirring the blue depths of sea.

Million limbs that I birthed drop into the seed that explodes
confines of time and dimension; here words with ashes blow away.

______________________

Chonyid Bardo is the intermediate state at death time when the breathing stops, before the desire for rebirth sets in.


A Ghazal On Birth Of The Buddha: Bardo 3

I leave no reflection and shadow when I enter the womb,

the inky lake deepens in darkness, falls silent like the womb.

I swim through dark channels, see a man and woman make love,
knotted in lust and hatred, gelatin of desire greases the wall of womb.

Ball of misery seals the opening, drowned in sea of stinking muck
I gasp, take lung-full of prayers and bubbles of breath fill the womb.

Shirts fashioned with care are spread on the shelf to choose -
what will I wear, what body will I inhabit and into which womb?

I hold on to a robe whose dye is drawn from lotus seeds,
the fabric is soft on skin, the tint casts a warm glow in the womb.

I clean the floor, decorate the walls with vermilion marks,
fill with smoke from incense cones every corner of the womb.

I am the Buddha waiting to be born, the seed is chosen with care.
As the stars race and the moon moves up the sky, the womb

opens in receptivity of the light. My mother sighs in her dream,
perspiration of the humid night on her neck like the pearl in her womb.

_________________________

Sidpa Bardo is the final bardo in the cycle of human existence. It is the bardo of becoming, or transmigration, or rebirth.


Uma Gowrishankar is from Chennai, South India. Her poems have appeared in 'Qarrtsiluni', 'Whale Sound' and 'Carcinogenic Poetry'. She blogs at http://umagowrishankar.wordpress.com/