Sunday, June 10, 2007

song beneath a tamarind tree

In the same dusk
as this still birdless dusk

and in the same valley
as this valley wan and sunless

thousands of penny-paid men
have been obliterated in battle over
and over
for a prince’s grudge
and for less, far less than this
and lain on ground that
was not cultivated or reaped
for any other purpose

than to receive them.

Each night is the same night
dusk is no more dusk than the dusk
fallen shortly before
or after

all history is a whispered
repetition in shaking voice
in plywood and tin town alleys

of certain fundaments in
various posture and dress

trying to hush
the same long howl for justice.

I am young. For princes’ fears
I refuse to die.
My only hope is that

the constellations of love
will sparkle such

that death will not take me

as a sigh of breath wasted
no traces of jasmine
in the sunless valley of the prince.

Because night is one
all ages are knowable

I hold out my hand

night light turns the skin wonderful
burning it too ancient
to be this smooth.

I know folk
a long spell dead

Sing! Sing! says the tamarind tree

and I’ve squeezed the toes of babies
who after hundreds of years suspended
in this one night

will open their mouths at last and gasp
for first breath

and ask the princes in vain
who we are.

No comments: