“ … I can’t live without books, …”

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
Ernest Hemingway.

If air currents around tall Manhattan buildings
Can turn, a discarded black plastic carrybag
Into a bird, gracefully gliding from one rooftop to another,
Somewhere down the line, swelling up to become
An overstuffed pillow, and then, an O
On the chalkwhite blackboard of the sky,
About to burst, then pumped out of air,
Shrivelling fast like a punctured balloon,
Spiralling out of control like a doomed
Jetliner about to hit the ground,
Not quite getting there, having been given
Another lease of life by
A fresh burst of wind from the Bay:
If, George M Cohan and Father Duffy,
While facing Times Square, can patiently bear,
Cup O Noodles smoking,
Budweiser, Barcode and Virgin
Crying themselves hoarse
Amidst the din of Broadway posters of Aida
And The Rocky Horror Show,
South Americans playing their music on pan pipes,
A black banging away on his Roland synth,
Yellow cabs, city tour buses, the M of MacDonald’s
Next to the Visitor’s Centre,
A couple quarrelling,
Someone picking trash off a can …
If, the entire face of a building
Screaming NASDAQ
Is actually a tv screen,
And air currents can make a discarded
Plastic carrybag preen like a prima donna,
Then why can’t I be
As I wish to be,
In tired-out
Washington on all fours
Under the moral load
Of the Statue of Freedom,
Stern monuments ... mind-boggling museums …
Why can’t I be, as I’d rather be
On Capitol Hill, under Minerva’s watchful gaze,
Wafted by gusts of Memory, Reason and Imagination
A sheaf of printed paper,
Bound in red leather,
Gold lettering on my spine,
Reclining on a warm-white-lighted
Desk, in the Reading Room,
… a book …

Mofussil Notebook. Poems of small-town India, Cooperjal, U.K. 2011

Smita Agarwal's picture

Smita Agarwal is the author of "Wish-granting Words, Poems", Ravi Dayal Publisher, New Delhi, 2002, and "Mofussil Notebook. Poems of Small Town India", Cooperjal, UK, 2011. She is also a professor of English, University of Allahabad, India; a literary critic; an editor for "Plath Profiles" and a singer.

Last updated November 23, 2011