Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poem: prin ts

1

jute fibers rasp and sting
visitors gasp the humid heat
a woman tends a clacking loom
thirty no more
her ring finger
no more –

I peer through heavy air
does no one have a set of ten -

the Dacca mill guide
jabbers rapidly
as if economists
will understand

the Dutchman has gone green
the Scandinavian turns away
my ashen father
covers his mouth

and I stag
ger
out
into the mere heat
of the monsoon

“Marx called this primitive accumulation”
whispered my teacher
father

“150 years and capitalism
can barely show
its bloodyhands
in daylight”

come rains
I open my mouth in stubborn
prayer

will sheets of heavy rain
swell the Ganges

wash the shores the walls
wash out the blood?


2

money flees
from East,
“internal colony,”
to West

jute owning Adamjees – their son’s
my friend at Harvard -
jowl by jowl
my father hates Punjabi racism

with the powerful
his group “Harvard advisors
to Governor Wallace”

stand sheeted at Alabama
door to block a lone

student


3


my parents toured
Comilla cooperatives
small farmers working to make do -

my mother caught their glow
redolent of anarchist farms
she’d known so long ago
exuberant as she

wheat
near spoiled in Springfield silos
he’d made a works program
so that the poor

be fed

Bengali hands
forged dams cut
roads

drew prideinpubli
c

space


4


I journeyed with my mother
to the Sundarbans
great Ganges swamps
swept by the busy clouds

our steamer chugged
late against the current
to the Government House
near ruin or unfinished
who can say

tigers
boatmen say
come stalking by the door
even to bedrooms
crocodiles
lie easy on that beach

the board from stern to porch
shivers unsteady
under hesitant

“perhaps” mom says
“the sleeping’s
better on the boat”

come morning
beaches empty to tall grass
I and a guide –
he’s left his gun

be hind -
walk in sunlight
by the muddy water

we stare at

a
giant
paw print
where the lithe

tiger had gone
down

to dr in k


5


that fall at Harvard I told Ashraf
Adamjee
bespectacled scion

of his family factory

charming as always
he’d squin ted at the
tale
and at his nails

and never spoke to me
again

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