To the Mahadevi of Hsipaw

Known as “Mahadevi”
Leaving off her European adornments
She came to the Shan Mountains
With sheer love.

Over Colorado
She favored the Shan people
Who pick tea leaves,
Worship gods
And offer beef to a statue of ogre.

Gazing at the mountains
On the face of her husband
She didn’t fall victim to a brutal tiger
But to a bestial dictator.

She would like to shake and awaken
The Dream of Monarchy
Over the Earth’s greenish brown mountains
With a fur fan of Democracy.

She feared gamble
And corruption
More than a python.

Together with the indigenous people
Who were undeterred by any act of adding salt (insult) to injury,
She stood tall
Looking ahead
With her back to the West.

She left no stone unturned
In her search for her husband
Whose dead body was hidden and obscured
Due to his rejection of the dictator’s red-carpeted road.

“Will papa be at the airport?”
Taking the question from the two daughters in hand
She had to escape from the country of ogres.

On this Earth
A beautiful flower,
Not worthy of this forest,
This mountain, this water and this land,
Under the military boots,
Was nipped in the bud.

In this world
A widow
And another widow
And widows after widows
No more Padasari tragedy
For any woman to take part in.

About widows just like you
About fellow victims just like you
Even the falling snow over the mountains
Would have been asking questions.

In this land
Since the 20th century
About a dead body that has gone missing
Up to now
Posterity will be asking questions
About the bloodstained answers.

Kyi Zaw Aye
Translated from the Burmese by KSW