An old woman whose breasts are so long with age they touch the water hyacinths that float at her belly repeats a mantra that was old in the time of Babylon and Thebes.
The rim of the sun is pushing up through haze. With some hurry a few of the others who are here at this early hour remove their outer clothes and place them folded on the stone steps of the ghat beside the mother of rivers.
I do not know what their words say, but I listen and hear how the words flow through and through the street sounds: the coughing engines, the opening and closing of windows and doors, a speeding motorbike. The words become a limpid texture, holding a thousand percussions. And so the city in all its forms of cupola, tower, and walls askew, awakens from one dream to float on another, made of words.
The air is smoky from the cremations that never end; the smell is a mixture of sandalwood and cut flowers, diesel and shit.
morning bathers . . .
slow hands that ladle light
shining from the Ganges