Hem Bishwakarma

Every month

a red cascade flows from me out

a symbol of proud purest of all!

but your eyes behold it

the impure red, untouchable


the length of purity can’t you gauge

with your psyche

for it is far to the distance of the sun


every dawn,

the sunrise showers its red beams

Our flag flutters its red glory

the rhododendron paints red, too

are they untouchable? Or impure?


Red is rebel

Red–also a love that drips from hearts

while in danger or disgrace

your face flows a red terror


why do you draw?

a red line of swearing with vermilion

through a bride’s hair-parting

also, red Tika from a priest

on your forehead

are they untouchables? Or impure?


If you see red flowers

dancing merrily

please, don’t pluck them

The flowers might be impure!

The flowers might be untouchable!

(In Hinduism, girls are defined to be unholy and untouchables during their menstruation. They are kept aloof from others in a shack far from the home for 5-7 days. This inhuman practice prevalent in Nepali societies has cut short women’s empowerment.)