Monday, September 18, 2006

9/11 Poems from Raw Silk by Meena Alexande

1. Aftermath

There is an uncommon light in the sky

Pale petals are scored into stone.

I want to write of the linden tree

That stoops at the edge of the river

But its leaves are filled with insects

With wings the color of dry blood.

At the far side of the river Hudson

By the southern tip of our island

A mountain soars, a torrent of sentences

Syllables of flame stitch the rubble

An eye, a lip, a cut hand blooms

Sweet and bitter smoke stains the sky

Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad and divided her childhood between India and the Sudan. From her cross-cultural perspective, Alexander writes in, Raw Silk, Triquarterly Books/ Northwestern University Press, with moving intensity of post September 11 events as she evokes violence, and civil strife, love, despair, and a hard-won hope. This autobiographical cycle of poems reflects the surrealism of such a life and is shot through with the frissons of pleasure and pain, of beauty and tension that mark a truly global existence. Meena Alexander is the author of several books of poetry. Illiterate Heart, also from Triquarterly Books, won the 2002 PEN Open Book Award. Her memoir Fault Lines, chosen as a Best Book of 1993 by Publishers Weekly-- was recently reissued by the Feminist Press at The City University of New York, in a post 9/11 edition, with a new chapter entitled "Lyric in a Time of Violence." She lives in New York City where she is Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Centerer of the University of New York.


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