Two Poems

Ravi Shankar

Cape Sagres to Lisbon and Back Again

And the promontory, sacrum, cliffs lashed by the waves,
land’s end Europe, howling wind, arrhythmic nets
pulled in by fishermen sharing half a bottle of wine
between them, raindrops the size of olive pits plinking
the clay rooftops, mi amor, minarets of the monastery
an architectural oxymoron not based on any gentility
principle that can be parsed in storm, dolmens jutting
from clay, granite eggs crosshatched with scored letters
in an ancient language—druidic?—the dialogical quality
of history in conversation, the rhythm of faint lines due
in large part to the size of the cahiers, bowls of fish soup
and fado guitar overflowing the cobblestone, lurching
streetcars in parallel fifths, far from the Anglican belts
of hymnal, an irreducible secret, unspun wool, Moorish
palimpsest beneath erasures of Spaniards, Catholic dub
the anti-theatricality of the domestic arcane, presiding
over the gnarled cityscape the one and only begotten son,
whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, a middling
fish peeled from hook by handkerchief and from the boat’s
bottom a checkerboard pattern palpitating like a heart,
the fishermen rowing back to shore, dragging with them
a wet heat in their wine-stained clothes, heavy with salt.

Surface Tension

Scarified now but how? When we once heard parades
from windows, swayed in artificially

luminescent reeds under the Brooklyn Bridge,
filled soaked corn husks with masa dough,

glimpsed mouse-deer scamper on wish-thin
legs, called each other mon petit coeur de sucre,

split each other like oranges at the navel,
turning pith to string between wet fingers.

Our realm was the back of doors, ill-lit alleys,
lying splayed out on a lake dock baked in sun

until the impulse to jump. We were gods
caught in a rising soap bubble, arms bare,

upswept scent of sand dune barren as moon
except for us twinned, intertwined, tied

to nothing but in the moment each other.
Where did you go? Suds, not love, evaporates.

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