Sunday 15 August 2021

Ishani Das, Poetry 2021 Shortlist

The Forgotten Goddess 

Abstract: In the Victorian period, prostitutes were called the “Fallen Women” just like Lucifer was called the fallen angel. It is because prostitution was considered unholy and against the law. Here is a short instance by me from the life of a prostitute in 1890 London, her name is Emma.

When the rain tried to wash away

The darkness of the new-moon night

At one corner of the crossroad

Stood she.

Her back leaning on the damp wall

Eyes seeking for a hungry gaze

Yes, even tonight she is the prey

Yet how could she escape?

Her little girl lies in that cold room

Beside the fireplace

Too dim and pale.

While her starving cry is the only music

Of the tale.

Back in the streets

Throbbing with horror and pain

Emma kept pulling up a smile

For every passerby.

Although miles apart,

The sobs of the little soul

Kept echoing in her heart.

After ages of longing,

When her limbs grew tired

And she could stand no more.

A man came to her from

Behind the shadows.

She rose and spoke in

Broken weak voice:

Only a shilling Sire,

For my spirit and my sick little child.

Without a word of mercy,

The man held her by the hairs

And pushed her against the sodden wood

There in the dark, he fed on her.

She just wished for the feast to end

Kept counting every fraction of time

Then, she would grab some morsel And without wasting a breath Run to the fireside.

Just to hold her beloved in the arms And give her all the warmth

From this body,

So chilled and numb.

Maybe a few centuries had passed And when the man was full,

With an intense feeling of joy Emma extended her shivering arm For the coin of the bargain.

Instead, the beast gave a sick smile While thrashed her hard on the pillar. In a moment, he disappeared Into the mist once again.

And slowly the world around her Grew silent and dimmer.

In trance of the shock

She could hear her baby

Screaming with fear

If only she had a little more strength To wake up and take few steps. Yet she failed

And gave in to the ache.

There in the room,

The fire also has given up

An hour ago.

Now, the tiny body

Wrapped in the torn cloth

Has gone cold.

No more cries, no more tears All was calm and the rain was quiet. And again had returned

The peace of the night.

When the light came back

From the sleep.

Emma was sitting

In the frozen chamber.

With blood on her temples,

And a bleeding soul.

She couldn't cry nor yell.

Tied in an unbroken spell

She might have sat there

For a long long time

Holding the corpse in her hand. All of her paralyzed.

Today, after decades when

The lost story has grown old. Emma still visits the grave every day I see her and often wonder

Isn't she the Goddess

We all forgot to pray?

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