Donna Waters | Mother Ganga from the shores of the holy ganges

 

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

rhythmic genuflection.

 

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

 

You welcome.

 

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