Jul/Aug 2009 Poetry

Two Poems

by Hemant Mohapatra

Letters from Exile—II

It's snowing in New York

It wasn't just the snow
eating up the suburban baroque,
or that you had just walked in,
cold as a welldigger's heart.
It wasn't the twilight leaving us
with our loneliness, or the night
unfreezing fireflies. It wasn't you,
with your elbows shored up
on old sienna tables, nor me,
keeling my way to the moon.
It wasn't the television
drooling relentless channels.
It was us: we were never geared
for love. The regularity was too dull.
Imagine the earth in orbit,
and this giant circumference
of light slowly slipping west:
everyone on that edge, waking
up together, lovers, still in bed,
entering each other and leaving
in fierce automobiles. It was
that routine we couldn't live.
We were like a dog
in love with his bone.
You throw it to the far end
of the field and he races off,
not to recover the piece,
but just to clear
the distance in between.


how it adds up

                         what they don't tell you
is how it all ends. sure it was
                             volcanoes exploding
in the opposite hemisphere. moon
was igneous and adrift
                               while they cheered
your airship dreams of love
and you felt soft
                          and scared like a child
lowered into a well or some balloon
returning to a vast ocean.
                           you are in the kitchen
peeling garlic when it sneaks up
while the pots
                                    and you hate it.
you hate it. you hate how it comes
from all directions
                            like breathless rhinos
chasing clouds you are already old
pushing this perpetual engine
                of grief waiting at the window
for that letter to arrive three years
late so you
                   could write back "come home
my love, see how your departure
has unbalanced this air."

  but it is now summer and no one writes
               to you anyway
so you
                             just keep on waiting.


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