||Amar rokte tomar shur baaje.
I have two problems with thisó
first, to look at it objectively,
every letter in his Bengali hand
seems a glyph so that the words
form symbols, extrapolating
backwards to an idea, so that
it cannot be expressed in words.
Nor would a tour of memories sufficeó
the streets of Calcutta, crowded and
dirtily indifferent, the college we both
attended, with the same slant of heat
at midday over the portico, would not
return to me the hurt that urged this line:
at this point, grandfather, your cadence
becomes a sigh. And what remains,
therefore, is to take the verse
and say: saccharine, I have lived you.
||Without wasting words, letís say a child
wasted her afternoon studying scars
on a map pinned-up in the kitchen.
Her finger grazes a river (the wet bruise),
tracing a sleep-thin thought that I
will not deconstruct. And this paper,
magnified, spread out on a table, once
endured a night with finger-stabs, flag-pins,
orders rehearsed, followed by silence;
then an Emperorís gaze, fighting fate,
history and the sickness in his gut.
The child once more. Now grown-up,
who knows and will never again remember.
Observe her tracing of my brow
the thumb closing my hollowed eyes.
Sleep, she whispers. When all words
are spent, sleep is everything.
A seven a.m. moon still reaps darkness
the diseased, sulphur iris, giant headlight
darkened by time. Morning arrives
like clean white sheets pulled snug
to the chin. And when you open
the windows, itís not just that the air
is cold. The air is dark. And remember
this is a working day. On the street,
the rain is its own light, dripping time.
The crunch of snow phosphoresces underfoot,
whispering silence, that white-mouthed
word, to a drab flat landscape.
Images and effects passing like slides:
a corduroy pattern that the tyres
had ploughed in the snow. Leaves,
marigold and a diseaseópackaged
for transference where a road forks.
A jewel on her finger that returns
light to the night lamp. Blue rain
like a passage in a Bach concerto.
A name that escapes me, but not
the eyes that accompanied it.
Finally, a dream in verse, where
a cellular phone rings insistently;
then a plaster cast hand reaches out,
dismissing the manís number
that had surfaced all too familiarly.
here no note is heard
only a feeling
that precedes time
moment before the word
had been formed
the unsaid remains
then the great questions
now that our world
has come to an end
why does a new light
break the crusted cold
pink like a smile
and what if
all our journeys
ended to question vacantly
our learning again to believe
and what if
the new world arrives
on winged truths
caped in winter light
and all our dreams
of a hundred years
rise like a prayer
from our diseased existence
say the word now
say it now and be blessed