Ashes of the Ancients
The water broad and brown, winding like a boa
Through mountains deep, through cities wide.
The Ganges, life-giving waters wed with refuse rolling idly
Toward the Bay of Bengal, on to flowing free to the sea.
Fed by the mountains to the north, by the rains, by the falls,
The river running down and down and down,
Bathing villagers along the way, irrigating fields and farms,
Garnering spirits, gleaning the refuse of life as it ebbs.
Each spring Ganga, sacred Ganga, falls from the heavens, and
The bathers come, seeking the vein in the Earth, the adorning jewel,
Where sins are washed and life renewed in waters, hallowed, where
Ancient treasures and sewage swirl with life and death.
On through cities it coils, as the streams come, one by one,
To the sacred river. Flowing through Pindar, through Kanpur, Patna,
Through Varanasi, toward the Delta, toward Brahmaputra, where joined,
Toward the consignment into the bay and toward the ocean, freed.
The souls, all the ancient souls from fountainhead to basin, released.
Ashes loosed from the bounds of earth, a million souls, a million years,
Cleansed from the mountains, through Pakur, to Howrah,
Now all the spirits, of centuries, bathed and blazed to ash and blessed,
Carried with Ganga, through Shiva’s glistening braids, to return home to heaven.
Image by Rafal Cichawa © 2016 by Sandra Fox Murphy. All rights reserved.