Friday, May 6, 2011

Agha Shahid Ali's Dream of Glass Bangles

One of the most wonderful things about reading is finding new things. Agha Shahid Ali's poetry is new to me. This poem stunned me. It stuns me. 

I'm including the whole poem here because I couldn't imagine how to separate it without losing the magic and power. It has to be read whole, like a Prince Rupert tear

* Dream of Glass Bangles *

A woman wearing shisha and bangles.
Those autumns my parents slept 
warm in a quilt studded
with pieces of mirrors
On my mother's arms were bangles
like waves of frozen rivers
and at night
after the prayers
as she went down to her room
I heard the faint sound of ice
breaking on the staircase
breaking years later
into winter
our house surrounded by men
pulling icicles for torches
off the roofs
rubbing them on the walls
till the cement's darkening red
set the tips of water on fire
the air a quicksand of snow
as my father stepped out
and my mother
inside the burning house
a widow smashing the rivers
on her arms

This poem is from the book The Half-Inch Himalayas, published in 1987.

You can read more of the Aga Shahid Ali's poems here...   Maybe you will want to read them all. I do. There are 213 copies in libraries according to World Cat. It is still in print, too, happily.

Today's Poetry Friday Host is Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, who reminds us, beautifully,
that it is Mother's Day.

I'm in Yellowstone Park for the next couple of days.

The winner in the drawing for Jacqueline Houtman's
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas will hear soon.
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