Weekly Poem: ‘Experimental Geography’

BY Ellen Rolfes  September 16, 2013 at 3:30 PM EST

By Meena Alexander

  Experimental Geography

  Everything about the railway station was erased, including the woman who
  was carrying a child with a patch of blood on his shirt.

  I became all at once an American. This is a sentence very hard to translate.

  One is singing. Two says: one flows.

  You cannot know how things go. No Prophecy. Who can gainsay a bird
  singing in a suitcase?

  She was seven and started praying as hard as she could. By her pillow moths
  flew, in the lemon tree a nest of honey bees grew.

  An overdose of caravans caused her hair to fall out.

  Our Father who art on earth — Lord of Sorrows and solar eruptions.

  How many stars to hold the flag up? How many stripes to sink it? How many
  questions without answers?

  Who becomes President if both he and the Vice President die?

  The patch of blood on a child’s shirt becomes a bird with no beak.

  When the train arrived the refugees (for strictly speaking that is what they
  were) had no voice left in their throats.

  Their clothing was quite dry. In spite of everything there was much singing.

Copyright © 2013 by Meena Alexander. Published 2013 by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.

Meena Alexander
Meena Alexander‘s latest collection of poems, “Birthplace with Buried Stones,” will be published Sept. 30, 2013. Alexander is an English professor at the City University of New York and teaches at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her volumes of poetry include “Illiterate Heart“ (winner of the EN Open Book Award), “Raw Silk“ and “Quickly Changing River.”