Thursday, March 10, 2011
No Amnesiac King
One knows by now one is no amnesiac
king, whatever mother may say or child believe.
One cannot wait any more in the back
of one's mind for that conspiracy
of three fishermen and a palace cook
to bring, dressed in cardamom and clove,
the one well-timed memorable fish,
so one can cut straight with the royal knife
to the ring waiting in the belly,
and recover at one stroke all lost memory,
make up for the years drained in cocktail glasses
among dry women and pickled men, and give back
body to shadows, and undo the curse
that comes on the boat with love.
Or so it seems,
as I wait for my wife and watch the traffic
in seaside marketplaces and catch
my breath at the flat metal beauty of whole pomfret,
round staring eyes and scales of silver
in the fisherman's pulsing basket,
and will not ask, for I know cannot,
which, if any, in its deadwhite belly
has an uncooked signet ring and a forest
legend of wandering king and waiting
innocent, complete with fawn under tree
and inverse images in the water
of a stream that runs as if it doesn't.
Ramanujan, A.K. Collected Poems.
New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Posted by s.d. at 12:14 PM