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The Burnt

Silent as the low-tide,
tarred smell of the burning flesh
of old tires, oozes
through wattle walls,
clings to our skin.

Knelt by the cinders,
Ma scars garlic,
spreading the bruised cloves
on four corners of each room,
but the reek snakes
through the ceiling,
eating into our bones, like asbestos.

Grandma prays to her seven gods
lighting seven lamps with flickering wicks
like her lips,
Ma looks for the rosary
among her trinkets,
one more god wonít hurt.

Beyond the shuttered windows,
muffled Jeeps roam, duffle coats flutter,
goat hooved Satyrs
knock on doors, calling out names.
Grandma hangs her talisman
on the doorknob.

In the dawn, the radio unchains
the curfew for two hours,
we queue up for dhal and white bread,
hobble through the courtyards
sift through the empty sarongs,
touching the missing,
we mutter their names
like a mantra, a lament,
while they cling to our skin.

-Ro Gunetilleke (poeticdiversity)