तत्त्व

 

You were four people,
and your hands crumbled
as an unsaid word.

Your body trembled in the heat,
your daughter
poured oil on your lips
and set your warm hands
aflame.

Your arms stripped down
to branches.

You are dead.
You were burning.
She listened to your bones crackle
in silence against the rushing
river.

She imagined her hand
in yours
as she watched you; her
fingers blistered
into the moment when
you read poetry aloud on the long rattling train
to invisible cities.

You burned until the prayers
grew quiet.
You burned even
after when the tears dried
and the river grew quiet.

She only stopped hurting
because her grieving
caused you pain.
When you would hold her
as she could not hold you now.

You were dead;
the river swelled,
four concrete steps took a breath
and rolled under. Your bones
smelled like dust
over an old ocean.
Your voice smiled into reverberation.

You flew, your remaining strength
flung into the water. Your daughter cried
as you flowed between the legs
of priests, taxi drivers, washerwomen.
She measured each inch of ash
as it fell,
as earth crumbles
into water
and remembered
you for as many days
as she could.

You died, and you were four people.
You were the earth, your breath
soft, your chest wooden, calm.
You were fire, and she burned with you.
You were the wind as it trembled
as an unsaid word.

You were the water
and you flowed
away.

 

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