The sadhu squats low on the ghat.
Ochre robes lull in your water as he scoops.
Three times bending and three times scooping.
Just before dawn.
Day brings rich paradox.
Crowds come alone for their baptism. Others wash,
the thwacking of saris wave the boats on.
Your gentleness laps destitute steps.
The noontide herd of rickshaws and cows approach
There is little room left to honour you. Still
men and women bow their offerings in
Still, you welcome them, their brass vessels,
their minute vibrations and prayers.
You welcome also, the disoriented strangers
with their wonderment in camera bags.
It is long after dark now. The smell of flesh tangible
from the pyres offering their dead.
Red shrouded women and men in white
sit upright as the flames contort.
And they, the richer
are the fortunate ones.
You welcome them on their makeshift rafts. You mourn
for those left on the ghat. You weep
for those too poor for you
to carry them on their final journey. Still