A monkey swallows the sun, unpeeled fruit of the sacred river.
I've crossed two oceans, ferried through the straits of Malacca,
I've been swept in the current of a borrowed language to the steps
of this ghat offering my puja of pushpa, chandan, deepak, dhup.
Awake to the clamour of death, the drips and splashes of water,
awake to the sound of sitars, temple bells and Shiva's conches.
It's too early for bhangra, in Benares the sons of merchants
sleep the heady slumber of paan. A crow sits in the mango tree
as a pigeon trainer scatters grain, paying homage to the dawn.
The river is flotsam, forgetting its deities, shedding its scales.
Soon, in the morning breeze kites rise and plummet with the ash
of burning flesh. I too am a kite; the strings of my words tangle.
Hanuman, it is said the shadow of a god measures thirty yojans.
You overcome calamities the size of mountains. Your shadow
slips between temples, an alter-ego moving between two worlds.
By Michelle CahillQLRS Vol. 7 No. 4 Oct 2008