Temple | Poetry

I wash the sin from my hair at dawn

With rose water and the last remnants of moonlight.

I scrub my feet with rags dipped in milk and yesterday’s prayers.

I have sandalwood incense sticks for fingers,

Braided coconut husks for ribs,

And jasmine blooms for a womb.

Swirling mandalas trace themselves on my thighs in fine ash,

Bright vermilion pours from my parted lips.

The fire is stoked with charcoal and cinnamon in my belly,

The bells are silent in my throat,

Waiting for the ritual to begin.

Qamash tied around my ankles

Pulls my legs apart.

This is where you come to pray.


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