The morning Mr. Singh died,
his faulty garbage disposal spit up
a shard of pomegranate, and a flurry
of red seeds like carnelians
skipped across the limestone floor.
He clasped his hands in delight
and marveled at how beauty
lurks in the depths of all calamities.
In Union City, New Jersey, we heave
a coffin above our shoulders and march past
the bodega displaying mounds
of breadfruit beset by murmuring flies,
past wizened Cuban ladies who observe
the sniffling Hindu women waving incense,
the brown men in kurtas chanting,
Ram naam satya hai,
under the raging stalk-less flower in the sky .
His wife, who for years has openly kept
a lover upstairs in their fraying two-family home,
looks up solemnly at the creaking coffin
as her sister fans her proud mane
and blots away the sweat from her cheeks.
The Brahmin who chanted the sacred
mantras said Mr. Patel was so saintly
he would be reborn in a house of yogis,
ever closer to the liberating Truth.
And did I mention his only son, just 20?
The son said, My father’s wisdom will always
inform my actions. The wisdom of
a father who left nothing for the boy—
just a mound of collections notices
and his future step-father upstairs.
An image of broken-tusked Ganesha signifies
our place in this crematorium mostly for Christians,
and soon organs, tendons, marrow, skin
burn in the furnace’s mechanic maw.
Smoke streaks the New Jersey skies,
and but for a mound of packaged ash—warm
to the touch—Mr. Singh becomes invisible,
like the wind-written tracks of a bird.
Vikram Masson is a lawyer by training who lives near Richmond, Virginia. His work has been featured most recently in The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Blue Mountain Review and Prometheus Dreaming.