Perfumed blessings

Perfumed blessings

 

Greasy candle stumps

flicker dimly

like hopeless souls

as dawn blossoms

and tatty prayer mats

ceremoniously unfold

 

Down by the river ghats

worshippers congregate

a tired sadhu blows

an old conch shell

women bathe and sing

men wail and chant

united in prayer

the sick and poor

the young and old

 

Devotees make offerings

to makeshift, plastic deities

at filthy roadside shrines

as a crippled widow defecates

and a lame holy cow

saunters nonchantly by

 

As ancient temple bells toll

plumes of sapphire incense

fan the polluted, dusky sky

like ethereal peacock feathers

before wafting blissfully

towards beautiful mystic idols

with exotic kholled eyes

 

Cheap paper lanterns

crafted in Delhi sweat shops

in vile pink, sickly emerald

and loud, gaudy gold

embrace the sticky

scented, bejewelled night

like garish butterflies

 

As funeral pyres are lit

and mourners gather

Ganesh floats serenely

down the rippling Ganges

cocooned in a moonlit halo

of rancid, wilting flowers

dreaming of paradise

 

Beady eyed vultures circle

as devilish flames devour

human flesh and bone

and weary spirits hover

in the charred shadows

 

As the moon fades away

only cloying ashes remain

scorching and staining

the stifling morning breeze,

which desperately longs

for cool, cleansing rains

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Anne D Morgan

 

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