Meena Kandasamy

1984 - / Chennai / India

Love and war

two thousand years ago
our word for love
was the same.

women and men
wrote their songs of love
the intimacies of inside

and they spoke of how
love was tireless
love was a fantasy feast
love was no disease
love was no evil goddess
love was a harshness, in the parting
love was
‘the thing that made a girl's bangles
slip loose when her lord went away
grow tight when her lord returned'
love was (they sang)
‘bigger than the earth
higher than the sky
unfathomable than the waters.'
love was.

no names were named.
you did not know
who he was
or who she was
or when it was
or where it was
only
love was.

and there were
the poems of war,
the war poetry
poems on the outside

(and perhaps
because the bards
wore lotuses of gold)

there are
the poems
where the names were named
where the kings were praised
where a bard addressed another
where the guide sang to the patron
where the poet sang to the courtesan
where mothers spoke of tigers in their wombs
where the kingdom was
‘an unfailing harvest of
victorious wars'
where the old women
‘threatened to slash their breasts
if their sons died in battle with backs
turned in fright'
where the end spoke of
‘the blood glowing
in the red center of the battlefield
like the sky before nightfall'

and because it has an end
war was a history.

love never has an end.
love was. and will be.
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