You are fortunate, dear friends, that you can tell
what happened with your lovers:
the jests and laughter, all the words and joys.
After my sweetheart
put his hand to the knot of my dress,
I swear that I remember nothing.

 

This timeless poem by Vidyā never fails to take my breath away. The beginning of the poem seems to invoke envy of those who remember the details of their lovemaking. That is, until the turn happens in the delightfully structured “knot of my dress,” which conjures something tied up and on the verge of being set loose. The last line strikes like a bolt of lightning, burning up all her friends’ cerebral memories into wisps of mundane dalliances. Ultimately, what we thought was connection becomes disconnection, and disconnection becomes connection, for only in the dark peril of unknowing can two souls truly unite.

The intimacy and candor belie the period when this poem was written. Many people nowadays think of our ancestors as being dull and priggish in the arena of sex. Today, with the generous accessibility and bombardment of pornography in its various mediums, one might deduce that we’ve come quite far from the days of arranged marriages, stifling restrictions and silenced impulses. But isn’t it just a different sort of hush these days, one where loneliness permeates the masses as they sit paralyzed in front of devices, struggling to stay connected, their faces cast in an artificial glow that triumphs over moonlight again and again?  Is it possible in this modern era to grasp that there are things that shouldn’t be divulged, repeated—that a large piece of life is the mysteries it holds and refuses to reveal, like the beauty marks along your spine that he craves, nibbles, kisses, and which you can never truly behold, or begin to explain because when you try, words fall like crumbs, memory fails. All that remains is the feeling of having been adored, of bodies moving like rivers in the night.

 

*

Bhargavi was born in Hyderabad, India and grew up in New York City. Her poetry and essays appear in numerous anthologies including: Indivisible; Through a Child’s Eyes, Poems and Stories About War; The Meanings of Dress; Body Outlaws, Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image; and Listen Up, Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Her debut novel, Where the Oceans Meet, was published by Seal Press. Presently, she lives in Los Angeles with her family.

“You are fortunate . . . ” reprinted by permission of the publisher from Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara’s Treasury, by Daniel H. H. Ingalls, p. 156, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1965, 1968 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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