Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jeet Thayil

for Shakti


Gone and gone doesn’t mean a thing—
the world and we continue to be.
Happy to eat our pig and live, we sing
their names against the shame. We know
someone waits where the sky and sea
are tilted. She leans on light as on a floor.

The bridge between is and was descends
too soon, sweeps them up like chimney dust,
whose lips we loved, who were friends
when hands were hands that held us fast.
They reach to us, lost among the lost,
their shared minds stretched to the past,

inconsolable mouths slack with loss,
not able, not yet, to let go of us.
                           with a first line by Sebastian Mathews


When it rains, the dead descend, you appear,
the smell of rainwater in your hair,

wearing the ring I placed on your finger,
a scent like heat and a voice not yours, a
child’s voice singing of age-old danger,
in Hindi, a lover’s lament from Pyaasa.

Your lips, clear of the color you wear,
are not new to me, are lovely and bare,

and our old argument still burns.
How soon will you forget me if I die?
By the river in this room and the way it returns,
I swear, If I forget you, let everything die.

When it rains the dead ascend, disappear
where we cannot follow, into the living air.

                        with a first line by Michelle Yasmin Valladares

© Jeet Thayil


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