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Posts Tagged ‘London’

Poem #6

Cromwell News

This postcard comes to you from Cromwell Road, where I spent the better part of an hour, aimlessly turning the racks which displayed photographs of Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Prince Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum, The National Portrait Gallery. I coveted the over-priced water, fingered the coins in my pocket. I hovered to overhear the clerk’s conversation, I wanted to ask, are you always kind or only to me? I wanted him to choose me from among the tourists as the most sympathetic if not the most beautiful. Once, as I waited for the bus, he saw me outside and raised his eyebrows in greeting. Forgive me, for I fell in love with him, over and over again. He smiled. He asked, How are you? He had an accent. I want him to forgive me my sins of coveting and envy. I envied his gaiety, his supposed approach to life that allowed him to enjoy this convenience store of cheap, breakable lives. I asked him, why do you smile? And he told me, I want to go back, but for now, the war is out there, not in here. We have to make our way as we can. He included me in his language, the we that the English constructed to exclude him, the royal we, but that, as we stood there, included the continent between us, spanned only by his breath.

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The British Museum

Collected in one place, the history of Britain’s plunders: Elgin marbles, Egyptian mummies, Darwin’s finches, and maps of unknown territories. Here, my skin qualifies as the cartographer’s terra incognita. I pay two pounds for a cup of tea and cry quietly as I imagine the topography of your palm, rivulets, valleys, plains.  When I see the Mayan skeleton encrusted with turquoise, I surrender wordlessly to the dreams of the dead. What we know of the past we ignore and what we cannot know, we invent. I call you from a payphone wedged beneath the stairs and the crackle of air burns up all the oxygen between us. At such a distance, what can you know of the beauty of cold stone? Nothing.

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Prose Poem #3

Kew Gardens

The flowers are orchids and the clouds look like unruly children chasing each other across the blank lawn of the sky. The real children behave, sitting neatly on benches eating crisps, not spilling or crying. I traipse through the Japanese garden just to feel further displacement, the way the Ginko trees must feel in this foreign clime: rain, rain, rain, then today, suddenly, sun. Even the bonsai tree, trimmed to resemble a crane balanced on one leg, appears surprised, as if caught in the act of escape. How can you feel further from me here, where all distance is relative? In five days I will kiss you again, press my lips to your collar bone and cry. But for now this melancholy feels like a variety of weather. A cactus in a greenhouse in a garden in a suburb of London. Does that describe me? I lie on the grass, memorizing the relationship between bough, blue, cloud. The students circle around me. I want to stay here all day, I declare. I want to move here. I could live just beneath this tree, forlorn children sharing their neglected sandwiches with me, getting to know the peacocks and their unique brand of disdain. How can I miss you, the arid mountains, pine trees, bright, painful sunshine and almost miss here, too, this place where I am? The clouds saunter past.

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The British Library

Sylvia Plath, you could not know how the black ink would pierce my heart, for I am a mother too or surely you would not have written such things. Now I understand the weight of motherhood and London and such longing as not even words can convey. You are here, nestled among Shakespeare’s manuscripts, the Guttenberg Bible, codices of Eastern theology and the Magna Carta. But you already knew there was nothing to believe in, not words or Gods, and certainly not men. Sylvia, I picture you kneeling on the floor, your hair unkempt, your kitchen messy. And what I feel for you is not the sympathy of a sister, but the anger of a daughter. Oh, do it already. Put us out of our misery. But even that does not bring the rain to an end, and when we emerge with our parcels, the gray surrounds us as it must, even now, cover you.

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