Sunday, 3 June 2018

Sunday Poem

Against Hell by Kaveh Akbar

With sensitive enough instruments even uprooting a shrub
 becomes a seismic event. So much of living is about understanding
scale - a tiny crystal dropped in a river turns the entire river

red. The hands that folded me into my body were not punishing me
nor could they ever be punished, while the hands of the idol sculptor
were cut off and tossed to the dogs. This is proof of something,

but what? Maybe that retribution has grown vulgar, with sin now
inevitable as summer sweat. Most days I try hard to act human, to breathe
like a human and speak with the same flat language, but often

my kindness is clumsy - I stop a stranger to tie his shoe and
end up kissing his knees. I believe in luck and am barely troubled
by its volatility. I remember too well the knife held to my gut, the beehive

I once spat at for hours without getting stung. The charm of this
particular dilemma: faith begins where knowing ends. The undertaker
spills his midday latte on a corpse, a chariot wheel flies off

and kills a slave, and nobody asks for a refund. The unexpected
happens, then what? The next thing. I feel most a person when
I am forcing something to be silent, holding a rat underwater or twining

shut the jaw of a lamb before it's roasted on the spit. It's only natural to smell
smoke and feel hungry, to lean into the confusion of tongues. If I am
to be punished for any of this, it will be thousands of years too late.

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