Poetry at Sangam



The Roof by Alice Miller

On the roof of an art academy in America, the midterm elections
don’t touch tourists, the politicians for a few days allowed
to fade to silhouette
in a country not glad to see us, but
at least it’s not sad, at least it won’t obsess
about its own tide, as we do. When a psychoanalyst
says adults have no notion of home, a
nomadic woman says rubbish
and in America rubbish perches on gutters
and won’t wash down. A gull has a sense of home?
A bumblebee is bumbling home?
We bumble but we do not gull, only
cull our belongings as we wait to board
            our next plane out. In our bold age. In our bumble back
                        to riches and our gull back to rags.
To know we can’t know’s when
we find the roof’s clock tower with six ropes
suspended from its top, pigeons long flown,
one man singing as he loads the bell. The bell, because
now we prefer our music simpler
than our words, because the bell can set the sun
in view of a country we only ever visit
but make believe’s our own. Now we too can set
the sun; forget what earth’s made of, send
our quick-fingered-work off-
shore. The surprise
change in the tastes we’ve known
all the time we’ve had a body; has the taste slipped;
have we? All I know’s to go outside
each time a storm breaks, for the first
sleet, fist-sized hail, the cloud
that takes our shadows, the rain-thwacked-
roads; to break open the lie
            of the brainsafe screensaver,
                        the lie of clear skies, of stars.