by Bibhu Padhi (October 2014)
What do your eyes find outside
those window-bars, across
the afternoon road, daughter?
They look so visible, so very sad through
looking at a suddenly blinding sun
for so long, it is intolerable to me.
On the road, death’s horizontal pressure
shows. What if you haven’t turned your face
away from Palestine? There is someone yet
at a farther window, looking on
just as you do, at her very own
spilled, riviera-red blood on the earth’s
darkly volcanic, mideastern floor.
You are quietly learning
the mechanics of the intolerable;
your face has creased into time’s
rough, night-like folds, holding
the mystery of your being where you are.
You shall teach me the next lesson
in my textbook of life, and what
bits and pieces of mad bodies
it includes so imaginatively.
A few trees are going through
another, farther madness, with
a never-seen-before green where I live,
inside my middle-age fear.
Yet somewhere else, someone
is quietly celebrating the true flower
of marriage on his forty-sixth year.
Perhaps the one with the top hat
beside you, has seen it all earlier–
his got-used look looks less troubled.
Daughter: Learn to be kind when
you grow up–to me, the numerous
many I love, and to yourself.
Never get used to the intolerable,
never hurt yourself, that angel-body.
And then, you will teach me how to pray,
cherish life, how to blame the too visible day.
Bibhu Padhi’s eighth and ninth books of poetry, Magic Ritual and Brief Seasons: 60 Love Songs, appeared almost back to back earlier this year. He lives with his family in Bhubaneswar, India.
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