At the bottom of the temple steps
there's a rack for everyone's shoes:
mostly rubber flip flops
or sandals cut from a discarded tyre.
Trainers mark you out
the way a line of yellow paste
means you're one of Shiva's.
You press a few rupees
into the shoe-wallah's palm,
she fingers the suede as if it were
the underside of an elephant's ear
or a baby's foot.
Many lamps light your way
up to the temple gate
where Durga glares down at you,
makes sure you've washed your feet
at the temple tank below,
raises her trident and bow:
I admire her for her fierce intent,
her skill with weaponry, her energy
and solitary waywardness,
so unlike those devotees
busy at the shrine where I'm not allowed
which makes me want to go there even more,
see those lovely hands oil the lingam
as they ready their lord for bed.