Lotus flowers bloom regardless

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China on My Mind

Beijing shadows chase the kite flyer across the square
Our musician guide tells how he was made to smash his violin, his love
Fifty years on and grief still shapes his hands; splinters in his palms

Taoist statues wear ragged wounds in place of noses
Practitioners snow-bound in Siberia; statues humiliated at home
Beijing shadows chase the kite flyer across the square

Allowed back to the monastery, the monk first mends kicked-in doors
Half his time in practice, the other opening gates for strangers
Fifty years on and grief still shapes his hands; splinters in his palms

Empty after fullness; women forced to miscarry mourn their unborn
Mattresses soaked in tears and no one to staunch the flow
Beijing shadows chase the kite flyer across the square

The Yangste is a brown water vortex to another world
In the lea of the giant Buddha the boatman strains against his oars
Fifty years on and grief still shapes his hands; splinters in his palms

Lotus flowers brave the smoke-grey air, bloom regardless
The Falung Gong follower keeps faith behind closed doors
Beijing shadows chase the kite flyer across the square
Fifty years on and grief still shapes his hands; splinters in his palms



On Giving Away Your Old Red Scarf

The elegance of our dance — like brolgas courting — on earth
and in air too — from body to spirit, spirit back to body —

our dance was what I loved about us most. Riding luck
on your motorcycle, slipping earth’s tether, moving

to gravity’s secret hinge. Our flirt with weightlessness;
two immortals swinging between heaven and earth.

You fell into torment the way we’d fallen into love —
without warning, bodily — losing your sky-blue nerve,

your way, your resistance to gravity’s pull, falling
like a stone from the sky, flat on your back on forest’s floor,

carbon monoxide for oblivion. A new centre of gravity in me;
the core fragile, easily shattered, the cast of each day grave

as a cemetery, full of the dark birds of death,
circling, whirling, very near, close as to carrion.

Your death was the bundle I lugged like weighted animal skin
through the years' tundra, eating dirt and rock.

Gravity teaches humility, patience, lays down gravitas
like an open misere, but who wants lessons such as these?

Two decades before I become gravid with words
as a womb is with babes, a comb with bees.

*

The cemetery engraves a threadbare hill, parched
paddocks, bleached grass. Death has cobbled your parents

and me into in-laws for a 20th anniversary visit — my first.
I knew you’d been cremated but the smallness of the mound …

just big enough to rest the plaque on, ashes under.
The absence of a grave, of a body shaped mound

shouts gone into the dismal air,
shocks me into grief all over again.

*

Your scarf — from the rug shop in Marrakech — used to be red
as cyclamen, vivid as blood — faded now to palest rust.


Anne Carson Anne Carson also writes non fiction, and is nearing completion of a memoir about her 15 year friendship/advocacy of a woman who has intellectual disabilities.

 

 

 

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Existing comments

Loved these poems by Anne Carson. In this fast-paced world, it is virtually impossible to settle oneself long enough to read anything. Anne's poems, through their passionate words and careful structuring, command not just to be read, but to be felt and imagined. And they are worth the journey.
Heidi | 15 April 2008


These are exquisite. the snapshots cascading together into movement: embodied and encultured movements of connection, freedom, burden, enclosure - words that move you to the core.
Anne O'Brien | 15 April 2008


Thanks Anne Carson and ES. Moving poems. Beautifully crafted, sharp, sure-moving language in both. Painfully strong repeated lines achieve a powerful use of the form in the first.
Joe Castley | 16 April 2008


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