In Search of Evanescence

When on Route 80 in Ohio
I came across an exit
to Calcutta

the temptation to write a poem
led me past the exit
so I could say

India always exists
off the turnpikes
of America

so I could say
I did take the exit
and crossed Howrah

and even mention the Ganges
as it continued its sobbing
under the bridge

so when i paid my toll
i saw trains rush by
one after one

on their roofs old passengers
each ready to surrender
his bones for tickets

so that i heard
the sun’s percussion
on tamarind leaves

heard the empty cans of children
filling only with the shadows
of leaves

that behind the unloading trucks
were the voices of vendors
bargaining over women

so when the trees
let down their tresses
the monsoon oiled and braided them

and when the wind again parted them
this was the temptation
to end the poem this way:

the warm rains have left
many dead on the pavements

the signs to route 80
all have disappeared

and now the road is a river
polished silver by cars

the cars are urns
carrying ashes to the sea