Shanta Acharya Featured Poet

Abegail Morley

Shanta Acharya - Photo by Dr Sanjay AcharyaMEETING SHIVA AND PARVATI
In The British Museum

Meandering like a river
among the exhibits I encounter
Shiva and Parvati engrossed in each other
holding the universe between their eyes.

Startled to find an offering of flowers
nestling at their feet where
Nandi, Shiva’s bull, and Parvati’s lion
gaze bashfully at each other,

this statue from Orissa, the place of my birth
carved between AD 1100-1300
on gleaming black schist demands my attention.

I am in the presence of God
conceived as a couple, male and female,
on the point of becoming One.

Over two centuries have elapsed
since the divine pair –
dressed lavishly in decorated loin cloths
their naked bodies adorned with ornaments
earrings, necklaces, headdresses, anklets –

were taken from their home in an ornate temple,
perhaps in Bhubaneswar, the abode of gods,
where worshippers thronged for a darshan
offering gifts and prayers
holding conversations with gods…

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