Friday, March 30, 2012

Self-Portrait as Housewife by Austen Rosenfeld

Your dreams hold your days together. You spend your time transforming stars into kitchen implements that you could bake potatoes in. Or coming up with one good reason for crying over dirty socks or falling asleep each night with all the lights on in the house. Waking, you can’t help remembering the first, but not the only, time you took off all your clothes and stood there like a pile of unopened letters. And then the kissing would begin; tongues rummaging like hands through someone else’s desk drawer, decoding his system for living. Remembering those few extra minutes you stayed in the shower–– because you wanted to. Because it meant something to you. A woman is wading through the dark rooms of her house, each one stagnant and swarming with loneliness. She wants to say I, but can only say You. And a man hates his son’s crooked teeth so much it hurts: they ring like a fire alarm. Pieces of a shattered mirror keep falling in her eyes, she can’t help it. Come now, the dishes never put themselves away. Reapply your eyeliner, pick a fight with a saleslady. Living is forgetting, blue wings beating against the window, portraits through the centuries with every feature exaggerated. I cry out to the trucks heading South, the shifting clouds, anything that moves: I know what it’s like, take me with you.

Tamil poem by Nammalvar [trans. A. K. Ramanujan, *Poems of Love and War*]

(This is on the the god of thresholds) Nammalvar was a Sangam poet: The Poem: We here, and that man, this man, and that other in-between, and that woman, this woman, and that other, whoever, those people, and these, and these others in-between, this thing, that thing, and this other in-between, whichever all things dying, these things, those things, those others in-between, good things, bad things, things that were, that will be, being all of them, He stands there.

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me. Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little. If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you. If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land. But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness, if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine. Pablo Neruda

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Undeserved Sweetness by Ben Okri

After the wind lifts the beggar From his bed of trash And blows to the empty pubs At the road's end There exists only the silence Of the world before dawn And the solitude of trees. Handel on the set mysteriously Recalls to me the long Hot nights of childhood spent In malarial slums In the midst of potent shrines At the edge of great seas. Dreams of the past sing With voices of the future. And now the world is assaulted With a sweetness it doesn't deserve Flowers sing with the voices of absent bees The air swells with the vibrant Solitude of trees who nightly Whisper of re-invading the world. But the night bends the trees Into my dreams And the stars fall with their fruits Into my lonely world-burnt hands. *****