From crooked gutters
where huts of tin and sacking
lean against each other like tired children
incense rises up to Lakshmi.
Her name is smooth as almond oil
on tongues parched
for water,
that whisper without hope
I wish, I wish.

Lakshmi is floating
in a disarray of lotus petals
on the Eternal Sea. Lord Vishnu
has cupped his hand
around her naked breast,
her jasmine-scented fingers trace
the outline of his thigh. Ten centuries
will pass before she sinks back, satisfied,
and, breathing in the incense, murmurs