River Phoenix

When we last spoke in Gainesville,
you told me about strict veganism,
the nutrients from aubergine,
and transcendental meditation,
the benefits of Om airy breathing.

October that year suddenly ended
in a lifetime of mourning
I silently sobbed when I saw
the Strip after two when empty
and Utah in late winter snow.

I moved to Northern India
after your private funeral,
to collect my vague thoughts
and gather my disintegrating self
confused about life’s provocation.

The Ganges chanting in Varanasi
calm like the eyes of the old widows
before the morning puja
reminded me of your patience
when you talked about the oceans.

The river boats at fiery sunset
quiet during the arathi ritual,
the burning of camphor and ghee,
made me remember when you were
introspective about the redwood trees.

The saffron robes and the marigolds
of half-naked sadhus and sanyasins
completed the slow-to-rapid beats
of sarod, tabla, sitar, and shehnai—
better than heroin, coke, or morphine.

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