Once Shiva, in his rage, cut off Brahma’s head
which stuck to His hand. Howling he roamed
but the head held firm.
Thus He is Kapalin, skull-bearer.
                                                  Here,
where Ganges washes away the sins of a hundred lifetimes,
it fell to earth. This is His place.
The cremation ground He never leaves.
Thus it is Avimukta, never-forsaken.
Here, and between your eyes, in your heart, navel, loins,
at the crest of your skull.
Here, by means of the Grand Trunk Road,
by means of the breath, at the trident of rivers and railways,
in the long shadow of Himalaya.
Even here.
Release is difficult.
Rebirth is horrible.
A man should crush his own feet
with a stone
to stay in Varanasi.


Published in:
The New Orleans Review Online, March 2014.