to you they have showed some truth.
In Hindi they were called Rudaali,
lower caste women paid to lament the dead.
They followed shrouded corpses
through the dawn streets
beyond city walls, standing by furrowed
red soil, wailing and scattering
In Ireland they were keeners; for a coin
with a bronze moon they wept
beside the sheeted dead from early dark
through the interminable Gaelic night.
It is a primeval thing,
believing that women hold what is sacred
and know the ways of loss,
but there are those who learned to mourn
at the feet of Death.
Better to pay for them and their magic,
to venerate with one hand and take away
with the other. Every coin is a reduction--
But Weird Sisters follow the one who pays.
The dust from his shoes falls down
an hourglass, his food is borrowed.
He will be followed to the grave by the Rudaali;
behind them will come three black nuns.
Beneath the earth his eyes will be opened;
every penny he paid for grief will lie
acrid on his tongue. Shades
of his sisters unmourned will stand
over him like crows, wailing
to call out the jackals.