Murukan, the Red One

Tirumurukarruppatai: 5

The possessed shaman with the spear
wears wreaths of green leaves
with aromatic nuts between them
and beautiful long pepper,
wild jasmine and the three-lobed
white nightshade.

His jungle tribes
have chests bright with sandal;
the strong-bowed warriors
in their mountain village
drink with their kin
sweet liquor, honey brew
aged in long bamboos,
they dance rough dances
hand in hand
to the beat of small
hillside drums.

The women
wear wreaths of buds
fingered and forced to blossom
so they smell differently,
wear garlands
from the pools on the hill
all woven into chains,

cannabis leaves
in their dense hair,

white clusters
from a sacred cadamba tree
red-trunked and flowering,
arrayed between large cool leaves
for the male beetle to suck at,

in leaf-skirts
on their jeweled mounds of love,

and their gait sways with the innocence
of peacocks.

The shaman
is the Red One himself,
is in red robes;
young leaves of the red-trunk asoka
flutter in his ears;

he wears a coat of mail,
a warrior band on his ankle,
a wreath of scarlet ixora;

has a flute,
a horn,
several small instruments
of music;

for vehicles
he has a ram,
a peacock;

a faultless rooster
on his banner;

the Tall One
with bracelets on his arms,
with a bevy of girls, voices
like lute-strings,

a cloth
cool-looking above the waistband
tied so it hangs
all the way to the ground,

his hands large
as drumheads
hold gently
several soft-shouldered
fawnlike women;

he gives them proper places
and he dances
on the hills:
and all such things happen
of His being

And not only there.
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