Buoy the population of the soul
Toward their destination before they drown
~ Robert Pinsky
February 2023
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Tuesday, 6. May 2003

Love Poem for a Wife - A. K. Ramanujam

After a night of rage that lasted days quarrels in a forest, waterfalls, exchanges, marriage, exploration of bays and places we had never known We would never know my wife's always changing syriac face, chosen of all faces a pouting difficult child's changing in the chameleon emerald wilderness of Kerala small cousin to tall

mythic men, rubber plant and peppervine frocks with print patterns copied locally from the dotted butterfly, grandmother wearing white day and night in a village

full of the colour schemes of kraits and gartersnakes adolescent in Aden among stabbing Arabs, betrayed and whipped yet happy among ships in harbour and the evacuees the borrowed earth

under the borrowed trees, taught dry and wet hot and cold by the monsoon then, by the siroccos now on copper dustcones, the crater townships in the volcanoes of Aden

I dreamed one day that face my own yet hers with my own nowhere to be found lost, cut, loose like my dragnet past I woke up and groped turned on the realism of the ceiling light

found half a mirror in the mountain cabin fallen behind a dresser to look at my face now and the face of her sleep, still asleep and very syriac on the bed

behind: happy for once at such loss of face, whole in the ambivalence of being half-woman half-man contained in a common body, androgynous as a god balancing stillness in he middle of a duel to make it dance soon to be myself, a man unhappy in the morning to be himself again, the past still there a drying net on the mountain

in the morning, in the waking my wife's face still fast asleep blessed as by butterfly, snake, shiprope and grandmother's other children by my love's only insatiable envy

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