Thirtha 11


The bus conductor thunders, “Haaji Ali,”

above the muezzin’s pitch, above cymbals clashing

around the corner by the jasmine vendors.


I wait among garish women on a ribbon of road at the head of the bay,

where double-decker buses hurtle into town, the dome

rising behind me, white and gleaming at low tide.

Crows and gulls wing about, searching.

On the floor of the bay, a path moves steadily to Allah’s heart.


I think of Muhammad  describing to Meccans

the light he had seen above the seventh tier of the mountain—

it was bright, you know, like…

but couldn’t find metaphors to paint the image that stunned him.


The singing on the cliff mingles with the muezzin’s prayer.

Both loud, their long syllables wind down the water’s edge,

rise among the birds, dip low, lift, and circle mosque and temple.


Nudged from one random thought to another, I wait for the right bus.

“Do you know if 47 comes here? It’s new,” asks a woman in green.

I shrug, ‘I’m new.”

One stops; a call pierces the heat, “Mahalakshmi”:

Different names for the same stop,

different names for God.

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