Patiwangi: Renunciation

Works in Translation

Oka Rusmini, translated by Deborah Cole
Published as a part of Cordite Poetry Review — 40.1: INDONESIA, Nov 04, 2012

First published in Patiwangi as Patiwangi.

this is my new land

a spring guarantees its existence

fish embark on new love affairs

branches bearing budding leaves

fashion a burial ceremony

I can smell all kinds of flowers

and ritual offerings curse the feet I sink into soil

the tinkling of bells arrests the compass

powerless to guide the gods home

In the temples I make a map

to carry my colors to the sun’s family tree

the earth broods, the soil buries its wrath

no fragment of sound remains

to set my colors free

the men who are present challenge the sun

awaiting their chosen woman’s hue

no temple rites exist for them to perform

the officiants can only inhale the incense

required to recognize too many gods

and still the men press their suits for my hand

because of my name

I need to possess a ritual history

of this selection

I will bathe posterity’s children clean

Read the full story here.