I am the ritual action, I the sacrifice,
I the food-oblation, I the fire-giving herb,
the mantra, I the butter, I the flame,
and the offering too I am.
“Works, devotions, and Knowledge,” Bhagvad Gita
for Parvathy Anantnarayan
My wife’s new teacher is Indian.
He tells her the first thing in the morning
to whirl like dervishes. When she stops,
he tells her to bring her hands together
before her face, to look at her thumbs
until the world stops spinning.
He tells her to do this three times.
Then there are five other things he says
she must do. She will grow old more slowly
doing this he tells her.
At the beginning of each day we try
to take darkness off our bodies.
Give ourselves naked to the light.
Every year we pledge part of our mass
to whatever is larger than we are.
All summer we burn like patchouli
in one neighbor’s garden, the basil in another.
My friends Cindy and Luis have taken to
calling me Bubba. My nieces called me
Uncle Bubba before they called me any other
name. My sister calls me Bub when she wants
to be most endearing. There’s something
in that name I should come to call holy,
as unimaginable as that might seem to me now.
I have never been thin. No one
in my family, on both sides, is thin
but I married a slim woman, loved her
nearly all my life now. Her mother is slim.
I once came relatively close to being slim.
My mother thought I was dying and told me so.
Winters my wife sleeps very close to me.
Says I am fire she needs. Her feet drift
toward me slowly, like gelid fish drifting
I like to think of large thick roots
of the four o’clocks in our garden.
Mirabilis jalapa the scientists call these,
but this is a plant with no pretensions
to anything but small beauty, its flower
a small petalless spot, its emissary
quiet perfume for ground, wind, blue
in sky, even for the sharp silver air, latter
arrivant spinning in like holiness every year.
Used by permission of the poet.