Poetry / June 2015 (Issue 28)

Variations on Death

by Ankush Banerjee

They sing in a different language. Their accompaniments
are tolling bell, monotony and faith. They leave a
trail of mogra and marigold in their wake. They cross a
neighbourhood where women exchange recipes from balconies
and cabbages explode in earthen pots.

I walk with the procession, led by the scent of marigold and sandalwood
incense in the air. An awkward curvature of limb
sprouting a few dead hairs, glimpsed
but not seen
in contours of wet flowers
heralds the strangest paean of
mortality mingling with panic.

They continue to walk
into the sunset, carrying a makeshift bier
that would have served
as a trolley
bearing dead fish or fruits,

A mangy dog chews a few marigold
petals off the road,
spitting them, in disappointment.
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