Poetry at Sangam

SangamHouse

 










PLOT OF TIGER LILIES by Meena Alexander

When Mirza Ghalib saw a Bathhouse-Keeper
Burnt by passion,
A brown man with bits of dirt

On his face and thighs,
He knew that the sun had to be sucked
Into the leaf of his manuscript –

So that in unremitting light
The human stain would pour straight into soil
And blunt rock.

I am dying into my own life – he wrote –
There is no help for this.
Only music without words.

My body is growing old
And so I need to remember
This body, this flesh.

*

A child who befriends stones,
Searching out ants for company,
Letting them crawl on her flesh –

Putting clear things together
So they would make a cacophony
Ruled by a richer harmonic

That the poet sought, dreaming
A dark corona around their faces
As they stood still in the garden.

*

Picture the child
Carrying around the wound
That no one else could see,

Fearing it would slop blood
Over the stiff sheets on the line,
In a garden planted with tiger lilies,

Water in a black well,
The gleaming pot of hair
On the cowherd’s thighs.

*

Music originally for voices
Now for the sun —
A poet making music with no words.

I think of the child I once was.
She saw nakedness,
And was terribly moved. How old was I?