“In the village of Behar, India, a girl born with four arms and four legs is thought to be the reincarnation of the Hindu Goddess.”
—London Daily Mail
From the ocean of my womb
the Goddess Lakshmi herself unfurled
her multiplicity of limbs
from my lotus body.
is rarely cause to celebrate,
but the village worshipped her, showered
us upon our straw-tick pallet
with jasmine, saffron, every flower
from the fields.
of gods are fraught. She hauled
herself about, impediment
of extra arms and legs that wheeled
no fortune. Infected, she fevered
to contain the sacred. Medics
expected death, advised we sever
the superlatives. But in which did Vedic
divinity reside? The scans
were silent, showed no glowing aura.
I deferred to learned men’s
certainty, the weight it wore.
So, at age two, the deity
divided, requiring multiple teams
to execute the surgery
—so many arms! so many arms
wheeling!—and after, on the bed,
my daughter, and an amputated form
laid out, beatitude fled—
A swift recovery. No sign
of sepsis. One month in hospital,
then home. No vengeance, none divine,
though drought makes our neighbors hurl
curses, blame us for luck gone,
Make your own fortune, girl.