"Suttee"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 15 2010 6:58 AM

"Suttee"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Carol Muske-Dukes  read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
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Some go willingly;
Some resist.

The fire in which his body burns
Lights into her thin negligee, her hair—

One way or another: She comes back
From that pyre as ash.

Sati, that nonstop goddess, ignited herself
Like a lighter thumbed open—

Flame like a slit throat—
Gilt-black: the copper-red avenger.

He wants to make love to you one last time.
A widow I know made herself into a nerve

Kite: up, up in smoke. Because he'd blown
Himself away and left her with a fury at him

She could never express. O she burns, burns
In her own bones. What good are the earth's

Rickety steps hacked into the hillside? Ascend,
Ascend, little sheep. He loves me; he loves me not.