Olaulim Backwaters

Seated amidst the mangroves,
my flesh fell away to the earth,
my bones leaned toward the river.
Birds came to rest where my eyes
had been, their song played out
through my mouth. Palm fronds
grew from my arms, my skull
became a coconut shell.

All this – us, we – merged with
the side of the hut where I
leant my back. The walls, the
floor, the ceiling; we were
plant, animal, vegetable.
Together we were the house,
together we were housed.

A breeze lifted the music of our
soul, a haunting sound, singing of
life and death, of beauty and pain.
The tune rose and fell, a musical
pulse, moving with our heart.

Time passed and time stood still,
the light changed, the heat dropped,
till I felt flesh layer my bones,
felt my feet firm on the ground.
Opening my eyes I saw birds on the wing,
butterflies in the warm haze.

Water was all around. The monsoon rain,
the quiet lagoon, the Arabian Sea;
oceans and streams flowing down my cheeks.
A wood pigeon cooed, a kite soared,
an otter bobbed and disappeared.
The mud from the morning’s bathe was
visible yet on my skin, a light covering,
going deep.