Poetry / May 2008 (Issue 3)

moments before they take him away

by Sridala Swami

he lies occupying six tiles
by one and a half   his hands laid out across
his birdcage chest  
jaw  palms  big toes   tied
she hovers around the body like a fly
and looks for things his soul might have occupied
an unexpected bee in the rose garland   the wind chime
animated by more than the breeze
his wife strokes his cool lifeless hand
reassuringly   she caresses his cheek   his forehead
it took a death for her to allow herself
this public display of affection
and what if it was the fire he alighted on
as he left   or the water that is now being swept
into the bathroom   and what if he is nestled
in the familiar odour of old clothes
that   now that the body has been bathed
and prepared   are being cut off and discarded
like they say in the scriptures   the soul 
discards an old body.

Editors' note: Read "A Cup of Fine Tea: Sridala Swami's "moments before they take him away"" here.

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