Marlene

you were a child

of the East

not yet nineteen

hunched over your sitar

playing ragas for me

in your bedroom

your feet tucked under

the green sari

you always wore

your long braid

tossed back

over your shoulder

 

your body had already

turned against you

but you talked about

the immortal soul

born again and again

in new incarnations

 

what form have you taken

now that you’ve left us?

are you the sparrow

perched on the fountain

or the caterpillar

inching its way

across the railing?

 

I imagine your ashes

floating down the Ganges

accompanied by

saucers of burning oil

petals of exotic flowers

and I a mourner on the shore

holding a candle

in a paper lantern

chanting a prayer to Vishnu

remembering  your ragas

which changed

according to the season

according to your mood

 

(originally published in Pyrokinection)

 

 

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