39. varanasi

We could sit here and watch you for hours,
languid Varanasi, unspooling slow and stretching like
censors leaving ribbons of prayer.
And we would write your mysteries on our palms
—the puja bells like laughter,
the saadus dancing with God.

We could rock here forever and breathe you, dear Kashi,
half between the shore and open water,
as the boatman pulls the oars through velvet night.
We would sing out with him for his mother, striking a match to set
our hopes into tiny palm boat diyas sailing off the current.

The light surrounds the boats, unrolling down the river,
and we know you have seen this– the healing, the healed–
for a million year before:
a hundred blessings sent outward,

like all of us,
sent inevitably home.

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