Bonnie Naradzay


The sinking sun glints off the backs
of water buffalo, sleek from plowing
monsoon paddies in the heat.  Along
the pilgrimage road at dusk, Sanyasi
wrapped in saffron chant their ancient Sanskrit
prayers, hold out begging bowls for rice.  Here
Death is unveiled in ash-strewn air, silken saris,
Flower petals, and jasmine entwining the hair
of penitents who descend the holy river's ghats
to bathe and soak, while buzzards circle Parsi
funeral towers.  When fires lick the high-caste
corpse that floats away on its pyrrhic boat,
flames illuminate the night, the drifting, fragrant smoke.
Whole generations silt these waters.  Wade in with me.
O silver river, let the night inspire.
While birches shudder in the ghostly breeze,
the poet reaches heaven with his lyre.
The darkened Rhine flows by cathedral spires;
the moon suffuses rooftops in a frieze.
O silver river, let the night inspire.
When splashed by waves, we hear a holy choir
and behold pale Lorelei, with gleaming knees.
the poet reaches heaven with his lyre.
Release us from this reef, this watery desire;
Strap us to the mast of entrancing memories,
O dream-enhancing river.  Let this night expire.
The river glimmers in the moonlight's fire.
Opening another Liebfraumilch, we seize   
the poet, who leans heavily on his lyre.
The night cascades towards morning's pyre;
the wine is gone, the boatman wants our fees.
You silent river, let your sounds inspire
the poet, exhausted now and sleeping on her lyre.

Bonnie Naradzay
Bonnie Naradzay served in the Peace Corps in Southern India, taught college, and now works for the Federal Government. She had a graduate school class with Robert Lowell in the 1960's and has returned to poetry late in life now that her children are grown.  She is enrolled in the Stone Coast (University of Southern Maine) low residency MFA program.   Her work has appeared, or will appear, in Salt River Review Convergence, Beltway, and The Potomac.



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