Varanasi [Haibun]

Varanasi smashes up against the Ganga. Note the tightly packed warren of lanes near the ghats, as if the city is compressed there. It's only farther from the river that the city unfolds, gaining breathing room, becoming wide enough for streets and signs that aren't blurred by being too close to one's face. The ubiquitous smoky scent also hints at a collision. Yet more evidence is seen in the barren east bank, a sandbar occupied by lounging cows and cricketers. As if the city refuses to crawl over the river as most cities do. The east bank desolation allows the formation of the "Golden Bridge," a band of orange that spans the glassy waters each morning, the only bridge in sight.   

ramparts loom;
boats glide over
glassy waters

Varanasi Haiku

Sacred Ganga,
Welcome to our city.
What gifts you’ll take.


Narrow warren,
lanes lined with bright-hued goods,
bangle blind and lost.


Cattle herd
roams the parched mudflat,
kicking up dust.


A golden bridge
visits each morning, and
exits silently.


Wood stackers
endlessly working
the burning ghats.