Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More teen poetry

Raja, Rani*

by Harika Kottakota

Mother once read amid inkblots and smoke, 
“While the rajas reigned, 
they sold diamonds in the streets.”
I’d enter her pupil and traverse
Labyrinths of baked clay--
Satin-wrapped women grinding dry chilies
Sandalwood, talcum, ginger gusts
Of children scurrying along elephant parades
Splotched in Holi colors

I envision a rani, lithe and fair, declare
“Our realm has nothing to fear.”
And ten thousand hurrahs rattle her glass bangles
Her eyes spill moonlight behind the spyglass
As jade green creeps upon the dunes
Archers poised, mares saddled
Praying for Lord Shiva’s spirit in battle
The stars beget caution, sacrifice,
Answers storming the world on
The copper bell’s last toll.

*”Raja” translates into “king or emperor” while “rani” means “queen or empress.” In the times of ancient kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent, the rajas and ranis were the most respected and powerful persons in regards to religion, trade, military, and infrastructure. Fidelity to the raja and rani was the key to empire-building and culminated in the creation of vast, rich, prospering Hindu kingdoms throughout India.

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