Stone Telling

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Celestial celebrities

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.