by Meena Kandasamy
because they had established a reputation
for being wild and unrestrained and indiscriminate
when it came to men
because they never cared
who left sediments inside them
because they looked forward to going down
when an opportunity presented itself
because they went dry
when it got muggy and unpleasant
because they froze to frigidity in their beds
when they were in the unlucky lands
of those who had fallen out of favour
because they were rapid in youth
because they mellowed and became maternal
when they were carrying
because they followed the jagged, moody course
they chose for themselves
because they loved erosion and erasure
because they threw tantrums and triggered wars
because they lacked secrets and loved catfights
because they held the magic key
to the corridors of power
because they were fond of running off
and running away
the rivers here bear the names
of fallen women exiled to earth
when the heavens found them
too bloody hot to handle
Meena Kandasamy is a poet, writer, activist and translator. Her work maintains a focus on caste annihilation, linguistic identity and feminism. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch (2006) and Ms Militancy (2010). Currently, she is a Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow at the School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
Two of her poems, "Mascara" and "My Lover Speaks of Rape", have won first prizes in pan-India poetry competitions, and her poetry has been profiled in several international publications. Previously, she edited The Dalit, a bi-monthly English magazine.
"Celestial celebrities" previously appeared in Meena Kandasamy's collecion, Ms Militancy, published by Navayana, New Delhi, in December 2010.
Photography: Silk, by Eric Wood.