Requiem for a Consonant by Anita Nair SignUp
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Requiem for a Consonant
by Anita Nair
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  1

Into Cartagena
they came.
The Greeks, the Romans,
the Phoenicians and some more.

Now water licks at
the pier wall and boats stand
sails rolled and decks swept.
Only the cry of a sea gull unfurling.

In the narrow streets
I see a pause.
A consonant swallowed.
Time held.

2

On the barstool alongside mine
a young man lights a cigarette.

Later he comes to my table
draws the chair
and plants himself there.
I shred my bread and say nothing.

We have no language
no tongues, no consonants.

I watch his fingers and he, my mouth
Then memory comes calling.
Of another time
when I knew a hunger, deliberate and slow.

Edouar, he scrawls on a paper
and a telephone number

Folding the paper, I smile
I will not call I know
Here in Cartagena, even more so
Hunger must pause.

3

How could I have known
that copper glistened green?
A warm sea on the rooftops of your city.
Or that on a rock
lived a fairytale
a dull green as well.

How could I have known
that for me you would always be
the little merman treading glass?
Pausing at each step.
Knives turning
when memories line.

How could I have known
that what I dangled so thoughtlessly
was hope? Only to coil it around my wrist again.
How could I have known
what I was doing?

And yet, what was I doing?

4

In the forests we walked,
you tell me, once lived trolls and ogres...
I picked pebbles on a cold gritty beach
even one bearing the imprint of Aladdin's lamp.


Your fairy tales now live
in a wire basket on my bookshelf.
When it drapes my words with northern shadows
I shall remember...

Of how in a green forest
you found me the space
of a hollowed out consonant
and let me go back to being a child again

5

What am I doing?
You say:
I should be driving to Sweden
with you at my side.
I laugh

I watch you knit
muscle into courage

I watched you cut your food
as if your tomorrows.
Neatly sliced
and forked into gentle mouthfuls.
I watch you hesitate.

In this city of green roofs
I arrive at a pause again.

You are then I know
too much alike.
So I laugh again
and say:
which way is the airport now?

May 14 ,2006
More by :  Anita Nair
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Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan
 


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