For Kamala Das
Click here for “The Language I Speak Becomes Mine” (Biblio, 2009)
Raw Bird of Youth
for Kamala Das
Kamala, what is happening to me?
I lie in bed, scan newsprint for signs of truth:
the OJ Simpson case, car chase and bloodied glove,
a raucous circus stewing in our throats;
derailment by Signal Mountain, the sun flashing umber
on bodies, dropped into the shell of rock;
India’s rationalists scorning the faithful —
shall Ganapati, Lord of the open world,
sip milk from tin spoons? Is this all life holds?
Last night in the cab, on Fifth, passing the park,
I heard the raw bird of youth its beak caught in leaves,
scent of petals thickening. Your voice swooping,
settling as you read from `Morning at Apollo Pier’:
`Kiss the words to death in my mouth!’
As you spoke the tiles on a roof flashed indigo.
Now, in a speeding cab as red lights clash,
I sense the sudden rush of lilac, mortality’s noise.
Kamala, in a brash wilderness, where does love go?
(From Meena Alexander, River and Bridge, 1995)