The Junction
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The Junction

“The moon drips ink across the sky.” Photo by Erika Burkhalter ©

Varanasi Song

The moon drips ink across the sky.

I trace her path beneath the pines,
and I glide….

Her cloak of light, as bright
as an abalone shell,
shrouds the stars,
but gilds the needle tips which frame her face,
as she pours her grace
over me.

My arms lift in rhythm with the pulse
of the night. I stroke backwards
through the silky water,
which has sun-drifted
from Tahitian blue to the slatey color
of the mirror of the sky.

And I cannot help but catch her eye.

All around me, honeysuckle tubes, yellow pistons exploding from tangerine bases,
have fallen from the hedge, and
their upturned faces bob amongst the sinuous threads of luminosity snaking across the silvery surface.

They remind me of a moment,
in Varanasi, when I floated on the Ganges —cracked wooden stern to crackling blue helm —amidst a sea of humanity.

Varanasi, India. Photo by Erika Burkhalter ©

Between the boats drifted tiny sparks
of passions and tears, dreams and hopes,
worries and fears, all whispered to a hushed flame
inside of an Indian Marigold fairy boat.

Indian Marigold fairy boat

The river throbbed with the confusion of the wraiths
of those bodies just left behind
in the burning ghat.

And she also hummed with the vibrance
of those who lived that day,
whose sunflower saris and wine-colored dhotis,
trimmed with golden edges, were pounded against the rocks
in the shallows and left on the river ledge,
in the sun
to dry.

Or perhaps the river purred to feel the
touch of the pilgrims who have come here to bathe,
in her holy waters.

“Omsters” bathing in the river, Varanasi. Photo by Erika Burkhalter ©

Or maybe she sang to the rhythm of the sitar
being tuned upon her edge,
gangly legs and heels tapping against the concrete banks
in a melody only imagined and
yet to be played.

I follow the moon.

My breath and soul fog up the night,
streaming upwards, tendrils of mist
caught in the light,reaching
for their mother.

And I think again of that other river,
so far away, and yet, right here,
in my mind.

And the moon, she peers through the curtain of night
and casts her glow upon the waters,
which hug me tight.

And I drift…

And then, I swim again.

This poem was given to me during Sharad Purnima, said to be the birthday of the Goddess Lakshmi. Moon-bathing in her celestial glow is said to be like absorbing her nectar, which is imbued with healing powers.

Poem and photos ©Erika Burkhalter




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Erika Burkhalter

Erika Burkhalter

Photographer, yogi, cat-mom, lover of travel and nature, spreading amazement for Mother Earth, one photo, poem or story at a time. (MA Yoga, MS Neuropsychology)

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