Firewalkers by Meena Kandasamy

Maari had a one-point goal. Maari had a manic soul.
Maari made her men wage war, with her rapist's blood,
To drench her hair. And then, and then,
As these stories go, Maari with her heart of stone,
Combed her hair with his left thighbone.

Here they are: the dream-chasers, the fire-stampers:
Souls in sweaty soles, the flaming bare feet
Of men and women (and also, those between) .
Here, the blood-splattered, whip-wrapped ones,
flaunting starry, self-flagellation scars.
Hollering here, the flashes of mortified flesh—
steel hooks piercing stretched skin;
skewers drilled through trembling tongues,
sometimes bridging cheeks, sometimes sealing lips.
Here, the hearts beat in answer to hysterical drumming.
Here, the bleeding is blessed.

And here, for Maari, the pain is prayer enough.
by Meena Kandasamy


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