I saw a nightmare once,
while I slumbered on the damp sand
of a smooth island,
fostered by the mother-river
as she grew tired and slow,
and shed her sombre burden.
The bloated moon was red with anger
because I had strayed
to a place where I was not welcome.
Bones in the wet silt,
an island of human remains;
this white sand was forged in pyres
to the echoes of ancient rites and sorrowful prayers,
satiated with long-forgotten grief.
What right had I to lie among the dead?
The wolves would not let me forget,
they mourned through the night,
the sultry gloom stifling their screams.
And as the clouds teased the moon
I saw it standing there;
A bundle of putrid rags
substantiated by a pair of wasted legs,
it lifelessly examined the intrusion.
But when I opened my eyes
I could not see it,
although I knew it was there.
Guardian of the dead,
awaiting my departure
from this haunted ground.
~ Based on an island in the Ganges outside Varanasi~