"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.
.

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.

I try to stay a step ahead of the flames,
But he's so fast like his hand across my face,

On my throat—the hem catches, then the stitching.
His profile floats up from the raised platform—

One gold ring, two: molten. I had that same dream,
Sati. But now, I swear, I will not go willingly.

.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.