It was a cataclysm. Thosands injured.
the final death toll unknown. Rescue teams
were called for, soup kitchens erected.
Five months they slept on the street,
pissing in the rubble. Her neighbour, the butcher,
all his family lost, would play in the evenings
on a cracked saz, one string missing.
kesik, hoyrat, bozlak uzunhava. Till his skin
would tear, leaving a pattern of blood
petals on the varnished mulberry.
One evening when the autumn stars ringed the town,
the saz disintegrated in his hands and he wept
uncontrollably, wrapping the strings around his wrist.
Around and around. Cutting off the flow.
At that time my life was empty of inspiration.
I found myself in an unfamiliar city, hair,
grown too long, reaching almost to my shoulders.
Seeing a woman, people rushed up to me
in the street, meaning to injure me,
or discredit me to the police.
A hot wind rose suddenly, sapping
all remaining strength, slapping the faces
of passersby with a swirling dust.
A call to prayer wavered across the rooftops,
arousing a strange feeling of intoxication...
My worried friend approached from an alley.
Beckoned me into a sandalwood doorway.
It is not safe here. Come. Come.
This living is made of inseparable things.
At a junction in the forest, a signalman stands
to attention on an upturned bucket.
Green flag raised above turbaned head, red by his side.
The locomotive slices open morning like fresh papaya,
spinning wheels in concentric circles - sequence
and consequence. The woman, all confidence lost
in language, repeats herself: jamais, jamais, jamais.
Her feet bandaged with newspaper,
her bright eyes rimmed with charcoal.
I would like to make sense of these monsoon humours,
the rough weather of our bodies, but am defeated
by the problem of connections. My hands alone
pretending wisdom, hum the engine's metal paradise.
All works Copyright Brian Flaherty