Ganga Maiden

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Down to the chill, sacred waters
Of the murmuring Mother Ganga,
A Hindu maiden sways along
The women's bathing ghat;
Sweatered against the January coolness
Of the the holy city of Hardwar.
The meditative girl ignores
Fascinated foreign and Indian eyes
Riveted on her rhythmic ritual.

With a practiced fluid motion
More graceful than the river's,
She steps from sandals;
Shrugs off the sweater,
Dark red in the golden morning;
Sweeps carefully braided hair
Into a black coil;
Unfurls a filmy white shawl
Only partially shielding
Her rounded flanks.
Discards her sari,
Crouching for the ablution
At the water's edge.

Her only garment slips waist-low;
Now undone, her dusky grandes tetons,
Prepared for Ganga-moistening,
Tremble slightly in the morning sun
And dip alluringly
As she bends to the green surface.
She glances coolly my way, once;
Shyly, yet unembarrassed;
And relaxed and deliberate,
Returns to her sacramental.