Thursday, December 09, 2004

Postcard From Kashmir
By Agha Shahid Ali

Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox,
my home a neat four by six inches.
I always loved neatness. Now I hold
the half-inch Himalayas in my hand.

This is home. And this the closest
I'll ever be to home. When I return,
the colours won't be so brilliant,
the Jhelum's waters so clean,
so ultramarine. My love
so overexposed.

And my memory will be a little
out of focus, in it
a giant negative, black
and white, still undeveloped.


Trophy: Poem for a soldier

Twenty-three years and counting.
Memories of lost comrades
pile like three-foot-deep tomes
dusty and stacked on that mantlepiece
over there.

And in the courtyard
like red pimentos hung out to dry in the sun
medals of honour swing suspended from strings
tenuous as spiderwebs.

Your greatest treasure
hidden from my curious gaze
lies in place of pride
in the loft
behind the gramaphone Papa gave you
in another life.


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