Alamgir Hashmi

Two poems


How nice the party this last day of the year,
and the resolutions. He sits down at his desk
now staring at a piece of paper, blank.
She walks in, mutters something, je ne sais quoi,
as if a dream had no ending.
And drawing a pencil line across
the page, indents it with a fingernail,
says this is where you live, right below,
at some angle of what you call choice, East Doldrums;
while she is above the tilt
made by her doodling hand,
a kind of horizon that any colour
on a white sheet could serve for,
say a livid lamp shade over Arctic light.
But how do you know where you live,
he says, West Doldrums? Horse Latitudes?
‘I know because I know’ is the only part spoken.
It sounds like 180° flat. A bruise in B minor.
He doesn’t know what kind of line it is,
unhooked from verticals,
not seen in any map, or the palm of his hand.
She says she may not cross it
and he shouldn’t either,
for the space is a wanting belly to lose yourself in;
would be packed as a silo
were he not such a square peg
and made her the first squiggle
of New Year worth his ink.
So he fumbles for the foot rule, protractor,
indiarubber for exacting care,
the compass and divider in his old school geometry box.
He too knows some things are missing
at the moment, above or below,
whichever’s the name,
and he tells her sometimes,
scrawl or string as short as this.
Perhaps it is not visible to the naked eye.
He would not erase it though;
it’s the only line keeps them talking.

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