Ghazal for Sukha
Cemetery pigeons raise stone wings like heathen
angels. Light winds worry thin grass, a fleeting
rain blesses the gold on a grave, trimmed neat,
planted with narcissi. Here I lie wormeaten,
alone among strangers whose salt I’ve eaten.
Called over black water by war drums beating
end times. Quayamat of fire, heat and
death. Strange rain from pale skies, sleet
and snow. Corpses swam rivers of dirt to meet
and embrace, casteless. Those whose salt I’ve eaten
summoned me to these lands, here I greet
death as life. Humbly, head bowed and sweeping.
A mother mourns me. Worn with weeping,
such endless small blows finally defeating
her bottled spirit. I crossed black waters to sweeten
her tears, ripen bitter fruits. Hear goats bleating
on the half acre I dreamed up, sown with wheat,
bought with silver from those whose salt I’d eaten.
Epitaph on grave at St Nicholas’ Church, Brockenhurst, Hampshire.
A RESIDENT OF MOHULLA, GUNGAPUR CITY, BAREILLY. LEFT COUNTRY, HOME & FRIENDS TO SERVE OUR KING & EMPIRE IN THE GREAT EUROPEAN WAR. AS A HUMBLE SERVANT FOR WOUNDED INDIAN SOLDIERS IN THIS PARISH. HE DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON JANUARY 12TH 1915 AGED 30 YEARS
The Hindi expression ’I’ve eaten their salt’ implies loyalty to an employer.
Quayamat= doomsday, or the end of the world.
Gita Ralleigh completed an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck University of London in 2015. She has published short stories in the Bellevue Literary Review, Wasafiri and in anthologies by Fox Spirit and Freight books.More recently her poetry has been published by The Emma Press, Liminality, The Brown Orient and 26 Writers.