The profile includes links to more Meena Alexander resources and includes the text of “Blue Lotus,” which is also included below.
“It is not enough to cover the rock with leaves”
Twilight, I stroll through stubble fields
clouds lift, the hope of a mountain.
What was distinct turns to mist,
what was fitful burns the heart.
When I dream of my tribe gathering
by the red soil of the Pamba River
I feel my writing hand split at the wrist.
Dark tribute or punishment, who can tell?
You kiss the stump and where the wrist
Bone was, you set the stalk of a lotus.
There is a blue lotus in my grandmother’s garden,
its petals whirl in moonlight like this mountain.
An altar, a stone cracked down the spine,
a shelter, a hovel of straw and sperm
out of which rise a man and a woman
and one is a ghost though I cannot tell which
for the sharpness between them scents
even the orchids, a sharing of things
invisible till the mountain fetches
itself out of water out of ice out of sand
and they each take tiny morsels
of the mountain and set it on banana leaves
and as if it were a feast of saints
they cry out to their dead and are satisfied.
I have climbed the mountain and cleared
away the sand and ice using first my bare hands
then a small knife. Underneath I found
the sign of the four-cornered world, gammadion,
which stands for migration, for the scattering
of the people. The desolation of the mothers
singing in their rock houses becomes us,
so too the child at the cliff’s edge
catching a cloud in her palm
as stocks of blood are gathered on the plain,
spread into sheaves, a circlet for bones
and flint burns and the mountain resurrects itself.
Tribe, tribute, tribulation:
to purify the tongue and its broken skin
I am learning the language again,
a new speech for a new tribe.
How did I reach this nervous empire,
sharp store of sense?
Donner un sens plus pur etc. etc.
does not work so well anymore,
nor calme bloc ici-bas.
Blunt metals blossom.
Children barter small arms.
Ground rules are abolished.
The earth has no capitals.
In my distinct notebooks
I write things of this sort.
Monsoon clouds from the shore
near my grandmother’s house
float through my lines.
I take comfort in sentences.
“Who cares what you write?”
A hoarse voice, I cannot see the face.
He smells like a household ghost.
There can be no concord between us.
I search out a bald rock between two trees,
ash trees on the riverbank
on an island where towers blazed.
This is my short
my long way home.
William, Rabindranath, Czeslaw,
Mirabai, Anna, Adrienne
reach out your hands to me.
Now stones have tongues.