Apr. 5th, 2011

starlady: (compass)
Between T.S. Eliot and my mother, I spend a lot of my time in April thinking about death, and also looking for poems to post that may or may not be related. This one definitely is--found by way of my sister last year, whose comment was, "it's kind of like that," and which I cannot better.

Let us be excellent to each other, dear readers; life is too important and too short.

Lenox Hill
by Agha Shahid Ali

(In Lenox Hill Hospital, after surgery, my mother said the sirens sounded
like the elephants of Mihiragula when his men drove them off cliffs
in the Pir Panjal Range.)

The Hun so loved the cry, one falling elephant's,
he wished to hear it again. At dawn, my mother
heard, in her hospital-dream of elephants,
sirens wail through Manhattan like elephants
forced off Pir Panjal's rock cliffs in Kashmir:
the soldiers, so ruled, had rushed the elephant,
The greatest of all footprints is the elephant's,
said the Buddha. But not lifted from the universe,
those prints vanished forever into the universe,
though nomads still break news of those elephants
as if it were just yesterday the air spread the dye
("War's annals will fade into night / Ere their story die"),

the punishing khaki whereby the world sees us die/out )


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