Jul 29, 2014

Water Burial

Written by Bruce Bond

Read by Lisa Olstein

No end to the river’s rituals
of passage, the ablutions of believers
knee-deep in the green

scent and glacial runoff of the Ganges,
the cool connective tissue of a people
washing down their backs.

What is a body if not a thing of water,
what a river if not a pilgrim who wanders
south to the open sea.

Monks come and go as tributaries do
whose names remain behind them as they pass,
and we look to the boat

ablaze against the slate of the surface,
against the mirrored image where it floats.
We look to the ripple

of the sail and the glare that pulls it,
to the stench and the glory, the russet
current fouled with soot,

hung from heaven by a braid of smoke.
We look to the man on fire who is two
men now, one who rises,

one who sinks: in time they separate.
In time we look because we cannot look
away, clothed in white

as is the custom. These boats go somewhere.
Stars feed the crematorium of dawn.
These still horizons call

to someone, something, a name we were given,
a song we heard, though where, we cannot say,
only a tiny ember

now and then, here a melody, there a word.