I am Kali Ma, the goddess returning.
I have come to shatter your temple's inmost walls,
to show a more lovely and distressing gaze.
My most beautiful form is whatever you are resisting.
My most beautiful face is whoever you are judging.
And where you do not want to look,
there I dumbfound you to surrender.
I am Kali Ma, the goddess returning
to the human mirror, but this time
not as a bloodthirsty Hindu succubus
dancing over dead demons
in her necklace of skulls,
because she is already old-fashioned
and too easily admired.
Here is a form more timely and horrific:
but do not be afraid, it is only your reflection...
I do not take the Metro downtown
to join the women's march
because I already live here,
in the heart of the city
where I am in labor
seven days a week.
I cannot take part in your protest
because you are protesting me.
I am young and white and working class.
I am Catholic.
I am pro-life.
I did not go to college.
I did not get a degree in the Sociology
of Gender and Revolution.I am Kali Ma.
I went to night school in accounting.
I am the goddess returning
to start my own dry cleaning business,
which is very hard.
I bring home almost nothing in profit,
because my business wears
a choking necklace not of skulls,
but regulations and taxes.
I am Kali, I am a corporation.
The protesters won't miss me.
They call me a capitalist.
They call me a Catholic.
Those are not dirty words to me.
I am Kali.
I spend my Saturdays
steam-pressing shirts and suits.
But I am proud, I work hard,
I own my own business.
Then I go home to hang
my daughter's clothes out to dry
from my fire escape
on a laundry line
strung through white smog
in the ally between
two one way streets.
Here is my secret tantra:
I refused to have an abortion.
Here is my hidden darshan:
I voted Republican.
Can you bare to look at me?
I am the face of the Goddess,
I am the one you have judged,
the one you are learning to love.
Photo: Gordon Parks, International Center of Photography