by Jayendrina Singha Ray

Eyes upon eyes,
Curious, Expectant,
Mine as theirs
Oh, the greed to know
What the river holds!

News of yet another—
Death by drowning
On the warm winter morning
The crowd awaits
By the banks of river Ganges

A cheaply decorated ferry boat
Of rotting wood painted
Drags through water
The catch to the shore
Until now, only a brown thick leg.

Through the pale yellow water
A figure bobs up and down
Glistening dark brown,
Shacked, by its ankle,
Hauled part by part—

First a brown ankle,
Then a fleshy thigh,
Then a starved belly,
Then a thin film of red gamcha
Betraying her in death

Laying bare the ample chest
Then the dark head of curls
Life-like- death unfurls
Yes, a woman—Alive or dead
A treat to those starving eyes!

How fascinating to be not dead!
How fresh a catch!
Naked and dead like cold fish
A muse to the poet and painter,
Amuse to the crowd.

*gamcha: A traditional cotton towel used in the Indian states of Bengal, Bihar and Assam.



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