What I fear, poem by Abha Iyengar

      Wear the colors of war,
      My husband,
      See how the red and the yellow
      Smear your forehead
      With valor.
      And your eyes
      Turn black with desire
      To vanquish the foe.
      Your sword shines steel
      A glint in the sun,
      Your helmet is plumed
      With the feathers of the peacock
      Blue-green and gold.
      Your body is anointed
      with sandal paste
      perfumed with
      the incense
      of a hundred lamps
      lit at night
      already
      proclaiming your glory.
      What do you have to fear?

      My feet are black
      With the dust
      Of destruction.
      I lick dry lips
      And wonder at the taste
      Of ash,
      Grey in my mouth.
      I ride my steed hard
      To return home
      To be with you,
      my wife.
      All I can see
      Is the river-red
      Of blood
      I let flow
      In the battlefield.
      I have won darkness for myself.
      This is what I fear.

      Do not anoint me for war anymore.
      My tears are falling.


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