The Nymph and the Sage, A Retelling

In lazing twilight, humid heat lay
heavy arms across his shoulders and thoughts
as he sat on a windowsill, straddling room and roof,
struggling to continue his studies.
Delirious from heat, did he really see her?

Perhaps she thought to see a world
away perched there on the roof ridge.
When evening winds brought not fading sea and strand
but wafted with well-forgotten promises
of water and arid earth’s murmurs,
of bonfire ash and overflowing milk;
that subcontinent’s perfume would
cast red the moon.

Downwind, she breathed deep of winter
winds and home, and remembered.

Made manifest in honeyed light was the flowering
promise of womanhood—an apsara.
Now with a maturity that belied the decade
and five she had measured her life,
she, poised beneath an auspicious moon,
danced as a devidasi, surrendering herself
to devotion and solitary worship,
to birdsong and the winds’ music
in banana and mango leaves, mimicking rain,
until her half-lidded eyes captured his gaze upon her.

Breathing heavy from more than sadir,
she strode over asphalt tiles toward him.
And in that space in-between, neither inside nor out,
she straddled his thigh, captivating him.

Her request was but one
token to show she was
loved for he echoed a distant brother
intimate only in monthly letters.
She longed for him to love her as he did,
wanting the same and yet so much more:
Consent to one chased kiss,
before the coming storm
swept all away.

In now failing light, she disillusioned,
lost her years, returning
once more to youth and probity.

Talk story

  1. appleblossum says:

    Hey Normie! I'm always a fan of your work and this is no exception. This was beautiful, an ethereal retelling of this myth/story type. Loved it. And kudos for using more than one trigger. Would love to see more of your retellings. 🙂

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