Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Sunday, July 20, 2003  

No packing list, and no money. Who can take them?
But I want the gold tasselled chaise

I lounged on those nights of havoc
speaking with you at 36, Avenue Georges Mandel,

Maria Callas, about a heart's dryness,
a loss of verve; the deeps of talent, glamour

not plumbed. Wanting Onassis even when your strewn
scales were their own fleet. Voluptuous. Rough.

I want a recording of that horrible Medea.
I mean, Maria, your impractical love for Jason.

Cravings. Radha wandering with her love for Krishna.
A cowherding girl, penniless, electric!

Duvet cover, lamp, world: biography of Auden
thing was to love one's neighbor. . . . I strayed

to planes, trains, you, clothes; we aimed at a style.
Wasn't it a carapace for our fragile conversations?

I meant to call you, but I lost myself at the mall.
Friday at noon, the fine weekend, driving fast and not speaking.

Toothbrush, toothpaste, boarding pass, magazine,
and the handbag stuffed with maps.

Bruce, did I ever mail you my best greetings
from climates which hinted at something fine?

We wore cigarette leg pants in melon silks
at the dress store, took our breaks

in the stock room and talked about cosmetics,
made extravagant wishes to forgo

at these religious times but I'd like a lipstick
even now: bronze mica frost with a dark brown liner.

I'll bring you some Jean Rhys. And what shade of rouge! Which red lacquer?
Tia, from the shoe store, size two petite jacket,

you come too. And you, Anisa, always window shopping
your mind; so bring your steamer trunk

as if it's old days on the Cunard,
and made bold by our emigration we wave from the rail.

Late dinners at Brasa off the downtown mall
where we keep on eating mussels

and talking about the day, and did I say
I played it like a wild card?, each shell

wet on our fingers, tossed off as at the coast
where we go for the tide. Bye, sailor. See you Maria.

What's there to take with me? Maybe the beach,
collecting her wet skirts on my chaise. Hello

time and fine weather. Good morning
from passport checkpoint, the lighted coast.

- "Emigration" by the poet Reetika Vazirani, who passed away on July 18th. Vazirani, who was born in India in 1963 and migrated to the United States as a child, studied with and was influenced by Derek Walcott, among others. "Of all the places I have travelled," Vazirani wrote once, "I feel a special affinity for Trinidad."

posted by Jonathan | 10:59 AM 0 comments


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