Pooja Nansi, teacher and poet, cannot, for the life of her, decide between two favorites. To spare her the agony, SP will post one first, and then the other later. Of Alvin Pang’s poem “Aubade,” Nansi writes, “The first time I read this poem everything around me went still and when you hear Alvin read it, there’s a melody and grief to it that is stunning.”
“My love, I fear the silence of your hands.” – -Mahmoud Darwish
Overnight, my heart, the forest has grown cold
and every leaf shivers with the sure knowledge of its fall,
shivers yellow and maple-red and mauve, Summer remembered
in vermillion dying. When I walk the river now
it bears merely the lightest press of feet, my body swaying
to keep balance in the whetted breeze. I had to leave you
on the absent shore, a warm bloom nesting in the reeds,
an unfixed, iridescent eye. How we part
only the morning knows, and what we said already dew.
Tomorrow after tomorrow we will find the tongue to
remember our silences, or borrow words from the night’s
vocabulary of sighs. Grief will teach you new names
and I will answer, hollow, in drumbeats and echoes,
in footsteps and softly closed doors, never looking
at you, never back. I place these words now in the vault
of sleep before it comes. Before the burial and the blood.
by Alvin Pang, from When the Barbarians Arrive, Arc Publications
Reprinted with the author’s permission.