Dancing Shiva

Sometimes the primordial Shiva dances in
a circle of fire, yet utterly serene

Like the brass ringed statue on the cabinet
brought back from India decades ago

Nataraja* poised motionless and frozen
half naked like some sort of sacramental offering

Left leg raised up towards left arm eternally
pinned into place by a cold cast copper and tin mixture

The sound of creation in his outreached right hand
A blazing flame of destruction in his left

Destroying and creating, exuberantly elating,
crushing ignorance beneath him on the cabinet.

Anandatandav, the dance of bliss is here
From where one always begins

In the dust that lies at the feet of the Nataraja
Less exuberantly stand five replica Lewis Chessmen

A Viking king sits stately, carved sword upon his lap
The unfathomable Queen rests face in hand, thinking

A bishop on his throne holds his crosier to his breast
A knight with spear and shield rides out unblinking

The fifth piece is the warder, teeth sunk into his shield
Each face exquisitely worried on this human battlefield

Juxtaposed at the feet of the exuberantly dancing Shiva
with his serene smile, I see the chessmen with new eyes as

these tiny replicas of anxious humanity buried in the sand
so long ago, and still we gaze at the gods as we gaze at the stars

small and humbled beneath their dancing feet

* Nataraja is the name given to Shiva dancing in a state of bliss

Eileen Neil

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