Early each morning, the river is obscured by fog;
sounds come ashore like cries from Limbo.
At dawn the young women come,
spools of brightly coloured thread, with fishing rods;
and, magical spiders, they cast weightless filaments
out over the water;
and for a moment there are more threads hanging
than there are people on the streets of Calcutta.
The river stops;
nothing stirs; the earth turns a little.
Then suddenly a rod bobs and bends
and stares through its tiny eye into the water;
straining, tensing, till in a slick of weed,
slivered as newt, a young man's body breaks the surface;
bulb-eyed, marble-chested and tapered
to a train of drops dripping back into the river.
Thousands upon thousands, like lanterns,
or candles being lifted from wax.
And when the fog clears
the women are standing with their unlit lanterns;
the bank is a thousand miles long
and the river is wider than an ocean.