Issue 131, Summer 1994
Their footsteps formed the paisley when Parvati, angry
after a quarrel, ran away from Shiva. He eventually
caught up with her. To commemorate their reunion, he
carved the Jhelum river, as it moves through the
Vale of Kashmir, in the shape of the paisley.
You who will find the dark fossils of paisleys
one afternoon on the peaks of Zabarvan —
Trader from an ancient market of the future,
alibi of chronology, that vain
collaborator of time—won’t know that these
are her footprints from the day the world began
when land rushed, from the ocean, toward Kashmir.
And above the rising Himalayas? The air
chainstitched itself till the sky hung its bluest
tapestry. But already—as she ran
away—refugee from her Lord—the ruins
of the sea froze, in glaciers, cast in amber.
And there, in the valley below, the river
beguiled its banks into petrified longing:
(O see, it is still the day the world begins: