Poem of the week: Week Thirteen.

And I’m finally catching up with the April poems. The first one under the theme ‘Exile’ is from Ranjit Hoskoté’s poetry book Vanishing Acts.

Emigrant
Ranjit Hoskoté

Leaving, he looks out of the window,
skirting the edge of the silver wing;
a tear widens in the quilt of clouds,
through which he sees (or thinks he can)

miles below, traffic lights blinking
their green and amber arrows
as rain smears the windscreens of cars
and soldiers jump down from dented tanks.

He clutches his passport. There is no room
for back numbers in his baggage.
The clouds stitch back the widening tear
but he gropes for a towel,

feeling the cabin temperature rise
as though, miles below,
the city of his birth were burning.

***

I have never known the state of exile and I think I never will. It only happens to others, you think, until it happens to you.

 

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Poem of the week: Week Five.

February is here, and it started with my sister getting married. So, the poems of this month will be around the theme ‘Love and Marriage’. Typical, I know, what with Valentines Day just around the corner. But, I have found that the poets are as allergic to cheese I am!  

Here’s an example from Ranjit Hoskoté’s poetry book Vanishing Acts

The Grammarian’s Marriage Poem
 Ranjit Hoskoté

The most beautiful is the object
which does not exist

                                   – Zbigniew Herbert: ‘Study of the Object’

                                              I

The most beautiful bride is she who does not exist,
she who bears no heroes, carries no firewood:

the classical absence pinned with jasper brooches,
she who is hope, the high-strung trope

of an extinct rhetoric, her limbs fragile as hieroglyphs
that I must collect with arms thrown wide

as metal detectors. She is a puzzle that I must assemble
into a body of coherent evidence.

                                                II

The most beautiful bride is music, not sculpture:
she will wear flowers of water in her hair

and sew garlands at nightfall from fistfuls of corn,
gather splashes of stars at her wrists.

In the wilderness of speech, she wll be my farewell
to the sins of too much talk, too much prayer;

in a high-walled town on a plain flat as a palm,
she will absolve me from my crazied pieties

of hindsight. She will be the rain of grace
bursting from the pods of the wishing tree. 

                                               III

She is a sphinx, the most beautiful bride.
Defying the logic of her own riddles,

She will relay me from cuneiform to runic,
cursive to blackletter. So copied from hand

to hand, version to version,
the words of my character are amended:

I will always be other than I am,
a translation of the original text of the tribe

burnt in sacked cities, buried with jewel-hoards,
torn apart by ravening wolves.

                                               IV 

She crafts me on her parchment sheaves:
I am no territory but only borderlines

born of her artifice. She writes me even as I write 
this marriage poem for her

and I climb out of the dark night
of her beloved body, the most beautiful bride. 

***