19 January 1999

As they wouldn’t believe him dead,
we stripped the blanket off and let
the body in the bunk cool down.
The jeans and white t-shirt marked
him as one of us, but under the clack
and shudder of the wheels, earth
was calling back its blood and
the back of his ears and neck turned
grape-purple-blue. He was going
nowhere now. Along the straight
track Varanasi’s platform hurtled
toward us. Each time the train’s brake
squealed, fog gripped the window,
thick as muslin layers that, five
hours later, would wrap the body
into a tidy packet, neat as any
Pharaoh’s, ready to load on a bicycle
cart and sealed with crimson wax.

from NEST OF THISTLES (University Press of New England, 2005)




Poems by Annie Boutelle



One Way to Varanasi

Basket of Fruit