To Her Mourning Daughter
My keening daughter, stare not too long
at the darkness of the grave.
Avert your eyes in time
and do not lose yourself in kindred’s tears
your veil too thin, your skin too sear for this
and you, too young in years
to bear such bitter bliss:
you, who have no need to be so brave.
Rather, be a bone as hollow as a birds, and as light,
see in the stars’ sweet drift the one who knew you
and let these currents of a dark and sadder night
flow through you, through you.
Do not assume the tint of faded leaves
do not allow the kindred here to cast you
as the one who ever grieves.
But rather, channel the water
where you wish it to follow.
Carry it with you, willow daughter
give voice to the pain
keen for the silence
be a flowing river
meander full and hollow
be both carrier and giver,
and life will surely flow
into your soul once again.
And only shed your mourning weeds
and casually toss your hair
when you are once more safely in my arms.
My daughter, I fear I abandoned you there
to a life of mourning and dark armbands
but life has other charms
and you have other needs.
Freely rewritten from a fragment of a 16th-century Hindi poem.
Artwork reworked by DutchPuh from an original painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau