The goddess Sati stood at the Ganges ghat, too close to her memories and his funeral pyre.
The sun set on the river’s horizon as they dragged her children to a distance.
Wrapped in an armor of white khadi and widow’s piety, she confronted the fire.
She surveyed the teeming people as the wailing ululation dissolved into incense fragrance.
Another goddess of self-sacrifice now stepped up to the blaze: Doctor Ford… Doctor Ford.
Silently repeating her own name, her unspoken truths self-evident, she stood and waited.
The distinguished Senate appeared, only to ply the witness before the gathering hordes.
The women of the world – sweating, shaking – hold her in their bile-filled guts, breaths bated.
The village council gathered for a final vote, five elders with sacred threads and tufted hair.
The colonizers’ marionettes, gentlemen in hitched-up dhotis, strings tugged from far away.
They decided amongst themselves – about her comportment, how she really feels, really fares.
They demanded she come for patrimony’s harmony, for their power to last another day.
Crowds gather and a time is set, to pin her body down under a rising blood red moon.
Lord Shiva watches his divine consorts as they retreat into snowy sari spirit-folds.
Both women take a single hieroglyphic step and freeze like Briseis, Sally, and June.
The men of the world – sweating, shaking – salivate for seared flesh, pray their sway to hold.
A new generation of women cover their ears against scrambled signals of their worthlessness,
And feel the rising heat of flames singe their memories into ashes and weightlessness.
Archana Sridhar is a university administrator living in Toronto, Canada. An Indian-American woman and mother, Archana focuses her poetry on themes of race, meditation and trauma. She studied at Bard College and Harvard Law School, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Guatemala.