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Alternatively, fragments from memories without the experience otherwise necessary to account for them.
Sonam Kachru (December, 2010).
--"And if the seasons defeat our garden?"
and teach Our children to live as at the ends Of cut stem or leaf. To take their tea with salt. and every bit as kind As the stranger sea. or at the break in bone With the wit of calluses. Against discolored skin. at tide— The cutting shores Of crueler seasons? Here are yet mothers. with a knife To keep under the pillow of a child at night To sever them from sleep. or in the least inviting: to forgive us Should we trespass in the light of morning With a too beautiful. if their sleep Be unkind. Here are mothers. What if this is not light we once knew 5 . Wash one another clean with mud.I …what fear after the flowers If our eyes recede And we ebb. we are taught. even unmarred face Even as we forgive those who recede And do not wake. with unfamiliar light.
and is caught As little dust in little light. Alive to all that un-still still lives And passes through us. Moldy taps set in mottled walls. By un-mute edges in spring. to remember Something of winter. The light is not nothing--to show us nothing Of the nothing new with us-But is some scaled thing Or unwelcome thought. In the splendid accord of flowers Pressed to absolute. coiled In a damp corner in a fevered brain. In water we drew from mirror-blank wells. 6 . Condense at the window above the translucent flesh-Her first turnips. almost up-to breath. Or knew to abound. Still.To gather to it all that is bright In a clean room in a swept house.
for amateur theology. Eventually. God wanted this blue country. O. doubtless. But he kills me every day. if any. Did you see him this fall Embrace me to winter?– And tire of her tears That flowed as prayer in her rivers And as ash in her songs. Gently whetted songs In crueler mouths—all heartless birds Our stones no longer breed From the thirst of snow. O.II Here is the country. of the gravel-throated songs The drowned hyacinth songs— O.. The silence in reeds. 7 .. To tire. For.
with her endless hair And the first thoughts in her swept head. withered. And no crop of gods. A blackened cup. With the crocus feet she let lie on a broken chair. Quite shut in with memory of new snow. But no fossils of paisley or dew of pearls. We carried no gods on roads away from snow. As she might have said. and between sips Remember: it was not like that at all. to drift In the bitter surf and the bitter shade. there where we slept. but not the samovar.III Know that it was not so. In her untidy eyot of hands: Glissade in dirt a broken-backed bird Gathered to itself in her garden. with The testimony of a blackened case for cigarettes. like unclean feathers And snow from birds. to the floor of a cage she did forget To clean before she left. disjointed at dusk. Or is it ‘martyr’? Sip. I heard it collect. Children. 8 . I remember. as a walnut in unclean dirt On an unfamiliar street. The only almond eyes I ever lay beside. fed on echoes Of water from yesterday’s snows she remembered. It fell into her lap. Witness. dried in a foreign summer. Of the skin she carried she made herself a winter mask.
Witness. in mine. the gods You insist she carried away from you with their homes. if more than enough In a little room. sublimed— Breathing only the naphthalene That clung to her to the end of her attic days In her hair and on her breasts and on distinct fingers That held her pale hands. out of doors. 9 . and what was less.Only three days I lay beside all four pathetic feet Of exile earth in her—mute to mirror this. once. or Martyr. I do not recall. Know that we carried no roads away from snow. her broken-heeled regard for dead-end roads. Now unframed earth of us all. your windows in your arms. Leaving you. Only a memory of snow.
TWO 10 .
our shadows desolation’s silhouette. a book it was not permitted to keep Entire on any shelf. to be quoted And not read. as we once did In cities that were.I We who cannot begin. or say When it began to end. Among ruined spires. A book perpetual. (Once. lest the book become more Than a mirror. I have heard them by moldy taps converse. to begin. That you shelved with the histories. Into sense – the bare breath-glade — We aspired to make of noise-some color against The sense in ends…) So it was we entered the drift And the wreckage— The falling record. Through febrile fingers as fragile As fingers through broken glass. Taking roads away from snow To learn. We shuttled In the ash-tongues of broken-backed doves Something of an atmosphere To fathom ourselves. moving and still. in pale hands. but windows through tomorrow’s Walls. belated. Cleaning gutted fish in un-kept hands… 11 . To us it was a book of quiet. no longer have need to leave.
” In the end he was bound to have written us A book of time. to come to rest where he was.’ The worst is not Where we can say. This was one way. ‘This is the end’.“So long as we can say ‘This is the worst. to begin an end. The drift and not the wreckage. after all. And close without beginnings or ends… 12 . Who can say When it begins to end? There must be time. Unless it is not An end but the beginning of worse. And ours enough.
Some winters we carried tea and fried bread to friends In the clutch of stones. and I’ve got no change In these pockets. no. or eyes. a girl let down Her glowing hair. ‘Songs are not like houses. She sang To water our stony heads: I’ll not go back on the road I came. What shall I give The man in the ferry? I’ll not go back. An unfamiliar figure). 13 . She said. And make no ripple In the gravel-colored waters in the mud-cold lake. stuck To flaking stone and lives the maker of ends Left behind on painted walls. out of our depth. Some winters we stayed home and nevertheless Lived apart. Let us not speak of worms. This was before They left us. (But in a little room. I cannot hear enough of landscapes. I’ll not go back. But the moon’s a fool. he took with him every door to his house But not the walls. and begged us to sink every word. as vultures. Small comfort We did not drown--we were deserts In her shade. ‘but paper boats In leaky rooms’. to ourselves. When their eyes were variegate.II …When he left.
but left us each Written on a pebble: “Your superstitions bait worms. Like misshapen statues with unfinished eyes. and Leaving. And when our ears remained.” 14 . a sort of taste in the head. at their leisure. A book victorious. a book un-housed. placed their words just so in our heads. They have left us A matter of climate. To what truth lies with pleasure in a time of leaves. A history of empty scenes un-walled. Like half-recollected breath. Words’ meat. like no monastery ever built. They took the book with them. Arranged to be counted.This was when their mouths disinclined to rubble. We proposed to make a book of it For them to live in. (But let us not speak of worms).
the journey’s Over.’ Undressed. or both. And not get stuck. When he passed into the rock. you who remember The lake is not deep enough for winter’s bones Now the dogs have found your wells.III One alone among them returned to us in summer. he left only his skin. A year she was to him a crossing.” (Whatever that might mean). carrying On his back. Fleshed in the skin of a cow. you’ll want knowledge. with a crowd of books. I am broken. She had (it was later Said) only this to say: ‘to spring a trap made with love. he lived And the rest of his life watched a boy 15 . With skin like water and a tongue like dust. stones With the faces of familiar gods Through which he spoke indistinctly: “Come gather. further down the river. A few stones and his mouth. He passed her in autumn for the woman who lived in the rock. though there was not room enough In the rock to hang a man between them. his books. but you are louder Than all the spinning wheels of winter-Now there’s a noise to keep you from unhinged sleep. or cruelty. only to die a distended bridge Over falling air. After little water. My roof is broken. He left the city of bridges and found a girl who lived in a stove With hair and a mouth of fire. He looked long but did not meet a face he remembered In the crowds that gathered like water wherever he slept.
In muted-white stone grow between them in a corner. for air. When one died (as one does). indistinct as the colors Of urns. He left the rock But leaving no longer remembered which he had said he was… 16 . The woman left them only her smell. the other stood And passed over a body with a face that he knew And a stone mouth wet with the smell of her.
I might have been one of them Rotting at the table. Or something else? When they speak Is it audibly said? Or do their words drain in your throat Alone.IV Are these human. And do not discuss. waiting. The urn-white children that come and go. but like no poem Ever written. the faces you see Indistinct. Inspiring. 17 . Or the sound of restless wings Beating against stubborn nothing? Your room is a fit of doors. in corridors. like scholars. as cut stalks in wet grass. a little dust To whispers under a discord of tables In a rind-thin hall where men brood. Lesser conspiracies? Is it moonlight You overhear Undo blue shadows on the walls And never once face The children who made them. and wrench Like bloated dogs in flooded gutters? Are they yours.
Children that follow their mothers into silence And the comfort of walls. swollen like unpicked fruit Under a perverse tree. the throb And swell of automatic lips and helpless heads Suspended from air in the callous mockery Of a surviving room. like the always returning. Or what think? But the grave matter that is Our too final vocabulary. What would we hear over our breath? The sound of her listening for footfalls by the door. Let them return like brides. He lay out of doors Like an animal.My face held up with a chord Of blue smoke (like a rind of rain) Suspended from ceiling and floor Avoided. the parts But not actions we are given to rehearse. Not even the dogs are this obvious. There is room enough. It is the uncharitable thought of a room Quite like the room when they found him. long after the flowers. No. What if it is less dull? What is there to say In the dark to the obscure? It is enough To have heard. He lay out of doors like a shroud. not an animal. Lonelier than a bride given to every eye The first day in another house. But this is not a room. Closely pursued by exclamations swept But not swallowed along the echoing floor.” 18 .
THREE 20 .
Have we not fore-suffered all. 21 . The answering swell of strong brown waters-The city bears the name of every city ever broken.I Spare us your mapmaker’s bold. God of tears in things. In every insufficient palette? Our city sleeps opalescent. The memory of the unwashed face In the cinder lap of unthawed winter Of the re-splendid goddess Drowned in the arms Of her timeless lover. Your historian’s gauze-thin colors.
I cannot remember: Was it doors or windows you carried in your arms. 22 . into buildings without air: to burn Their stillborn shadows into our dislocated memory of stone? So much in this country now depends from air. into the lit ends of cigarettes And the questions they forced With all that smolders in colors (In rooms without end and without windows) And watch slip. Or the willow bats under ferans once children pretended were AK-47s Or the landmines they had our children carry before them On roads away from snow.II In this country. To have you feel as you do When your brain is a rifle With an inconvenient safety. a most peculiar affair. Allegedly. after the flowers. duly beneath All the answering colors of your skin. only to turn As did the loaned barrels.
in a dry month. as if chiseled From his still smile. Of green almonds in his ripe mouth): Are we human? Or bitter to hear This side of the receiver: Who Said "human"? He heard.III Was it then bitterly said (Given the husks. profuse stone 23 . An unfinished mouth Profess in stone— We have given Each man for the ferry his due. What man hanged shall here fear The colors? Then finish it with me: Do you give a damn? And the answer.
Ya Shah-i Hamdan! This is the country. if any. my son. 24 .Pressing almonds in his green mouth. Was their smile: I don't give a damn. This is the country God made between history and memory. for amateur theology. If fewer doctors. with more poets than saints. The country.
The leaves in his mouth. to lie with all the seasons. (His face made with all that is indefinite In the faces the clowns in spring knew to bring us). and The grass sewn in with his hair. When the one with a stain of blue Through his throat (His eyes like rain). Mother. Mother. and every honest mask stitched from air Above my head. The shadows on the slatted ceiling Are as proverbs in your mouth. Your knife he placed with the rushes. The leaf-shaped eyes. But autumn in the gable windows.IV You made room in my bed. He has broken every face on the wall But the indefinite face of winter. It will eat Past the leaf-shaped lips. the one with the stain Anoints my mouth with what smolders In colors. autumn will crisp our sheets. It was not yet winter before me. Mother. 25 . Waded like a stork through the wet leaves Along my bed.
in the garden of long knives. against spring that was Lucent. come ash. pale corolla In quick fires: The color of Autumn's Crocus. The blue vein of Winter In stones. as the blue Through his tenuous skin Autumn's latter colors? Am I too young To remember? I taste again the words In my throat.And I am shuttered--Mother. and remember your eyes Recessed. words you had me swallow Like stale bread. I fear Come winter they'll have us commit stones To memory--to grow Where we grew. The one that quiets the dancer. Blood for its hollows. like flowers from winter air: “For what was green in the mouth And the parched reed They recommend water. Do you remember his name.” It is best to be as wind And not water. That can rend his indefinite face. come Summer 26 . Stained with Spring's Wilder Madder.
FOUR 27 .
28 . surgeons and spoils'. at dinner. caress The cinder tongues of resident birds--to trace. converse In houses that float on the water. every word they smothered in sighs: 'O. Emollient. Like porcelain that rattles before it rests At the lips of tables exquisitely carved. dare I say it here-Cauchemar?' There is seasonal wit to whet the keenest voice That ever drowned in sympathetic smiles. I have heard the compassionate rattle And what it must mean to hear them say-'You cannot know how much it means-O.I Each summer we welcome the rattle Of transient birds in restaurants. or behind walls On segregated lawns. but that we should no more speak of paradise But life. and. Again. or. as one. insincere as snow. what a comfort to hear humans again In a time of secessions. until they pause. I have heard their ragged claws extend To a page. You can overhear them.
As savage. 29 . more still.Smiles more profound than bone-ash in porcelain.
Our ash-mothers to gather Mouths that. Concertina of holes across his chest. Even as our leaves subside. A scatter of stones buried before him in spring. and rival Shalimar… . the smell of graves: hamin ast o hamin ast o hamin ast. after the fires.agar firdaus bar rue-zameen ast. parted from eyes. Everywhere. to fire un-numbered Then is our brittle harvest. the stones. As is written in the book of gardens. and it is autumn And the guns subside. and after. The unbearable likeness of indefinite ruin. Wider than the whitest furrow In the sleep of grey fields. 30 .. no house But the first bouquet of the garden to come. given earth And time enough of martyrs. on the third day. Open the boy No bigger than a stone That becomes the pebble In the toothless mouth of a timeless river: You will find in his head the harvest sky.. fill with colors.II It is summer. The earth our gardeners inbreathed To exhume us.
And crisp words reduce In hearth-cold mouths. to name Just how it is with the air that is honest About burnt rock. in the burnt fields. 31 .Immemorially weaned on indifferent fuel To be fed more intimate fires Till all that is of light in voice return To ash.
III So much. in this country. now depends from air… 32 .
FIVE 33 .
I Winter is not colorless. He knew (when their skin Took on the look of glass-dark turnips Obscured through the clouds of oil. or a poem Insinuating a desolate. to congeal-- 34 .These we packed into snow With all the eggshell care our barbers knew to extend The unopened vein in every boy That ever burned through fevers in winter. even as we knew To pack the spiced fish-heads in clay with a little snow. if for a time being indistinct As a miniature on marbelized paper.. buried with the leaves In the aborted shade of a walnut tree: with a mirror under the skin Of a walnut. flushed Against the shoulders of brine brown jars) To subdue them. Winter on a plate is indefinite. to the cold.. mud-colored duck On dissolute veins of ice in a rust-colored river. dates from an unwashed calendar And cowries in the hair of fresh flowers--their bloated stems Salted in cold water… . To leave them.
When you have felt. if winter's colors are winter's no longer But belong with the wolves you have begged a lover To feed in her dreams. under the window. not even dead) or the unintended wilderness. even 35 . Winter’s relief can be To dissipate. Or wink out. At my cheek. A pair of cowries on clumped eyes. Like girls they now find with reeds in their hair (And not accidentally. however. of a grandmother's warm But graceless breath. Winter in a granary is a winter wife to hold in a corner. it is said. or the raven Silhouetted in sibilant white branches. in winter. Winter on a plate. like a match by a cigarette In a shriveling mouth (it is no season for the unsteady). whispering. But do not press the ash For the colors in winter. The drift of lepers the color of day-old snow In the gravel.Winter knows Only such intervals of relief As are struck in cold air and expire At the limits. for truth. that is. As ash in snow. as my thawing words In your steaming mouth If indifferently said. Prefers to dwell at the bottom of eyeless wells). was for us to succeed At ash in the new year. Envy at hearing tell Of a past. and for a time. anonymous. (as something.
36 .. Winter is no memory for the desolate present.and will not spring. for time That must come into view without you..Nostalgic. Winter are the hours that crouch like no animal .
Water the foliate lips. If you seek atmosphere… But do not water the rasp of echoes Along the bare corridor. or seek to confine them In the inner courtyard. ever in spirals Bound with the wet leaves to the dirt floor. lessen. There is not room enough. auscultate An indifferent geometry -- 37 . that were never Children. spurred to affection. in the shadows left by these. autumnal and still. for him His secluded eyes. dilate. like the wandering dog We tied through a blue afternoon With white rope to an un-watered tree And watched. That their blue may flower To thoughts of sky in her constricted head. Or. uncomprehending. Do not strain the ash this winter. We watched him rehearse For us our devouring parts. instead. Orphaned in barking snow. Disarrange.II Winter is a rumor of more voices.
But not indifferent. With indefinitely many knots --tied at the other side To the shore of colors--invisible To all but the most cunning of knives Or fingers. as we. These we had made To press against the eye a suggestion Of life. we had the skill once To confine more unnatural animals To dusk. to proliferate An un-seamed semblance To live past all memory of life In the marvelous dead hands That caught.. of some stubborn seed In a growing thing. And this cruel. Whispers in the undressed lap of senile light. at least once.It was enough To have been. There is not room enough. We labeled the resulting figure 'memory'.it is true. in empty shuttles. . a touch Of the half-widowed light that will neither live nor leave. Winter is a rumor in the fever-sleep in colors. this banal.. To one side of the colors. 38 . in the warp and sleep of leaves Of gardens begun.
Strained through teeth in a papered mouth. The hyacinths are at the bloated cheek Of the reflections of hyacinths Along the parched river. with the season. The willow-tressed balcony. Shrill voices drowned. But not the maple tree. But not its reflection in the brown water.III It is not yet winter in the courtyard With his furniture and the painted feet Of un-skinned gods. In the shade hyacinths drink from shuttered lips. An unblinking window. In the receding court where a boy saw his first onions 39 . They have waxed. There is little of the light in the courtyard. As an uncertain smile Pressed through the oily cheeks of tourists Shrinking from a window in the blasted wall. Here water and eyes are blanched. but not by water.
40 . his colorless eyes a crowd of eagles Subdued with the bare leaves of a still maple.Advance.
SIX 41 .
As the smell of flowers through a room When cut under water. Children with glass eyes ought not to throw stones.Brine in a glass eye is to remember And can be stained with any color You can remember enfold (As when flowers begin to sink Beneath their reflections in water) The impression of a receding eye. But will not keep. They will break. If children with glass eyes throw stones. Stones are to milk with mouths winter brought us. are to be chewed to silence And not swallowed. Choked with flowers in summer. Flowers. the river exhaled them Like urns. Grant them That we may require no more 42 . and not extend. Children with glass eyes do not break in water. Pickled with brine in eye-bright glass An eye is more like a flower than ever. A flower in a petrified mouth Keeps longer than the boys bowered in the reeds. by the mouthful.
or aspire To stir their ash for embers Slow to expire in discolored stone. grant them at least this. theirs was a trembling mouth… …once there was a noise that rose and fell And passed.Of their grated throats. When it comes to it. 43 . Before their eyes were parted. (as wounded wind our barbwire meadows). unlike flowers From their colors.
SEVEN 44 .
(Blessed be the makers of beginnings. It is rumored we will eat No cautery again. milkers of stones) 45 . Fleshed in the carrion grammar of crows. Grown old… …time's untimely work.I (Blessed be the makers of beginnings…) We open at the mouth. But have a care with the leaves When you pour over us. with a vulture's quill. We have eaten of more than one book in the garden. Through tongues stiffened with bark. but a book of sutures Written in unbroken ligatures Stitched. in no way hermetic. More kind than those of illegible time. if you answer Ash in a stone mouth With rumors of a book of waves. These we owe hands Less steady than those of the coroner.
The cold and green water In no particular season Through my stubborn fiction. Or my thirst for all that is autumn In the immodest eyes and hair of a girl Careless with her painted feet In a time of glass keen water That wends her painted feet.II Let the flowers recede. our country. is no country to linger As the unknowing buried Beneath their un-drying names. This. Graft in a stone brain of grass Culled in our spring of graves. 46 . You’ll want a colder eye.
EIGHT 47 .
It was enough. To see.So it was I went before my ancestors a mirror. Their eyes seemed to look Through glass.. It was enough to see Them see themselves. as a glissade of glass seen In a shuttered window to a darkened room.. and to see In them myself unseen. They were crouched as windows In an airless room. 48 . We held between us in our teeth The still threads of recognition.