Jayanta Mahapatra

22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India

Dawn At Puri

Endless crow noises
A skull in the holy sands
tilts its empty country towards hunger.

White-clad widowed Women
past the centers of their lives
are waiting to enter the Great Temple

Their austere eyes
stare like those caught in a net
hanging by the dawn's shining strands of faith.

The fail early light catches
ruined, leprous shells leaning against one another,
a mass of crouched faces without names,

and suddenly breaks out of my hide
into the smoky blaze of a sullen solitary pyre
that fills my aging mother:

her last wish to be cremated here
twisting uncertainly like light
on the shifting sands
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