Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sarama and the sun cow

This poem draws on a story from the Rg Veda (10/108/1-11). Sarama, the messenger dog is sent off in search of the stolen cow. For more on this story see Bibek Deboy. 2008. Sarama and Her Children: The dog in Indian myth. New Delhi: Penguin. pp. 69-77.

Sarama and the sun cow dp252

the sun cow has gone on holiday to stay with her sister-
in-law in the mountains there in the deepest caves beside
the river Rasa she slept she slept because she had worked
for too long for too many she slept because she was
tired of being at the beck and call of everyone from
toddler to grandparent and all the old aunties and various
hangers-on she went to stay in the mountains because
the cave was herself that dark interior unexplored
in the cracks of time and then he had to spoil it all
he accused her sister-in-law of being demonic selfish
of abducting the sun cow and leaving the earth those
poor helpless ones in darkness he bribed Sarama
the house dog with promises of all that she could eat
and sent her on a grand search she sniffed and tracked
and swam raging rivers in search of the sun cow
and found her scent again on the bank of the Rasa
River following her nose she came to her side nudged
her flank and said he wants you to come home
the sun cow says stay sister here in this quiet place
is heaven no one to ask you for another drink of milk
no one to make you carry all the shopping home no one
to insist you raise the sun and carry the world all day
every day but Sarama had her orders and so she went
home alone he rages about those demons stealing
his sun cow his world his light he beats Sarama who
quivers and wishes she had stayed he forces her to show
him the way and then he can’t contain himself he kills
his sister and her demon friends he abducts the sun cow
who is raging and kicking and goring him between
the ribs the river still flows the old caves are empty
the sun cow is at her daily work holding things together

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