Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Winter Ritual: Breaking Bread
Cold concrete darkness
Pine tree groaning overhead.
Something swinging in the wind.
Wild whipping of the tips
Of the limbs, but not the limbs
Themselves, frozen and creaking.
One came down—CRACK!
Landed on the cradled loaf
She was carrying before her
On the front stone porch beneath.
Crashed on its covered crust
In the icy brittle chill of evening.
Sourdough it was
Fresh baked, warm and ready
For finger to break from its cozy nest.
But as I have said,
It was the limb, the limb it was
That broke the bread
Beneath the rocking boughs.
Oh, the Baker? She was shaken,
Shocked, as though disarmed,
Battered and patted with fronds of pine,
Frosted, but otherwise unmarked.
November Lawn Crew
They cut the lawn today.
They were cutting the frost today.
They were nipping at Jack Frost
Not vice versa.
Nipping: “nipping” is right—
Not the scythe-arch swipe,
A good John Barleycorn snap,
The harvest hack at back of the knees,
Just after the best of Indian summer.
Theirs today was but a tender shave
To take away some green,
To preserve some green,
To force up some green,
To make for themselves some green,
By nipping, nipping, nipping at the blades
Stuck up above the velvet moss,
As they cut through the frost,
Cutting the lawn early today.
Friday, November 12, 2021
I SEE YOU
To my brother who passed away at age 25 in 1996
by Lakshman Bulusu
I. THE BEGINNING OF THE END
It was a sunny Tuesday morning on July 2nd
with the usual rush hour traffic.
Your day began with a cup of Assam tea and a crispy toast.
You put on your business casual work attire,
a black Raymond trouser and a checked Arrow shirt;
but there was a change of plan that day.
You had to see father in hospital for fracturing his hand
when he fell from his bed the night before.
You prepared filter coffee, our father’s favorite,
thinking fresh coffee would cheer him up.
You placed the lower steel decoction container on the countertop,
positioned the steel mesh separater on top of it,
placed the top steel container over it,
put ground coffee powder into it followed by boiling water,
and let it settle for twenty minutes.
To finish it all, you added boiled milk and sugar to the decoction
and mixed it for a frothy coffee.
You filled the insulated mug with filter coffee
and started off on your motorbike taking Cantonment Road
hoping that everything would turn out right for father to return home.
II. THE MOMENT OF THE END
Twenty minutes into your ride--halfway--
in the din and bustle of traffic,
a white Maruti van collided with you head on.
You were thrown to the corner of the road;
your motorbike tilted sideways
with its wheels whirring one last time;
your office backpack lying a couple of feet away from you.
Our father’s favorite coffee dripped from the mug
as your heartbeats faded into silence.
No wails, no groans from anyone,
not even from the lady who drove the van.
She got down, saw you unresponsive, got back in, and drove away.
Moments later, police in a van passing by noticed you
and took you to the hospital emergency room.
The doctor in charge there pronounced you dead.
The police located your school badge,
contacted the administrator who gave our home address.
They informed our mother by phone who rushed to the hospital
in a state of shock and took your body home.
Our father still waited for your arrival.
III. MY REMINISCENCES OF YOU
I still see you through the lens of tears
that wet my eyes as I remember you.
I remember the many rides
you took me on your motorbike without saying ‘no’ even once.
Your whistle rendered a lilt to the breeze as we rode along.
I see you in triumph as you made it
through the interview for a graduate teacher.
You shine in the highlight as I reflect on our past:
the jokes we shared at teatime;
the rules of play you stressed,
no matter who won or lost;
the ideas you put forth as we discussed poetry;
the encouragement you gave
to turn Sundays into leisure days and take it easy.
The last smile of yours
twenty-five years ago as you waved goodbye,
still floats in my memory.
The flame of your life continues to glow,
its warmth comforting my heart;
reminding me, you are as near to me as you were,
twenty-five years ago—
your image apparent as a metaphor.
My grief of your sudden end no longer stands out.
IV. YOUR END IS NO PRIDE FOR DEATH
You have done your part and made your mark,
as a teacher in a Christian middle school,
fair and good in your profession,
though for a short-and-not-too-short three years.
Your effort rewarded through the words
of the Bishop who later visited our house,
He was good, honest, and well respected.
And it was God who gave the wound,
So He Himself would heal the wound.
To me it seems like the role of death
is like darkness chased by day.
Footprints of many generations outlive it.
Its very identity turns into a dimming light.
Dear brother, from a tombstone,
you rise like a tower in pride
epitomized by your meteoric talent.
And then there is afterlife
that welcomes you into a new world—
who knows what wonders it holds.
A reality that opens gates to the infinite?
I no longer question, “Where did you go?”
For, ever you live on—
And I still see you!
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Click on Poetry above to view Thomas Hubbard's two poems