in Andhra Pradesh, India, lies the Tirumala Temple,
situated upon a hill where devotees of Venkateswara
flock from all over the world to climb. I used to pass
by the stairs leading up to this hill every day and watch
as the first rays of sunlight softly crept up all 3500 steps
as if on pilgrimage for some higher meaning. my grandma
used to tell me that I would miss this place once I leave,
that people come from all over the world to climb the
summit I pass by every day, as if they all carried questions
tied to their backs and only the top held the answer.
I told her they were foolish for doing it.
she told me I was like the sun
that is raised in the East
only to settle in the West.
there’s a way in which you wake up each morning,
as if the world hides inside the corners of your mouth
waiting for dawn to break.
you remind me of home—
of bent backs and softly folded hands,
of Sanskrit chants and hopeful hearts,
of believers and of those who no longer do.
I asked my grandma once,
“what do all these people expect to find at the top?”
she laughed and said,
“they come out here to leave their questions behind.”
now I know that you and I don’t believe in gods as
much as we believe in the sky and everything she
holds, but the way the morning hides behind the
sleeping mountain of your body has me believe that
maybe we are all on a journey to answer the heaviness
tied upon our backs, and perhaps the journey is in
leaving it all behind.
I guess what I am really trying to say is, I think the
sun goes to sleep every night with a new question
tied to her back, and I think you have always been
the place she goes to find her answer.
—from Rattle #64, Summer 2019
Pavana Reddy: “Poetry is making a story out of a moment. You can unpack any moment so many different ways, and that’s what I like to do.” (web)