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Two Poems: The Country that Slips through My Fingers

By Ru Freeman

AT SEA

From the bottom of the closer ocean I scrape 
the sea into a plastic bottle let   its unknown conlang speak 
            above me when I go     
                        under—
here in this one place a rise accessed by braving 
a sudden deep the sand 
            is spindrift escaping 
                        when I come up 
not for air but to pour liquid the color of my skin
            into the thin mouth before the next swell
                        sinks me

 

My brother says there is enough on the beach along with 
rare island shells    beach towels    an American frisbee
I brought home as a gift for his daughters—

 

 

            It is not the sand I seek 
it is the turbulence of my agglutinative tongue now digging
in defiance of viced currents that pull me 
            further than I have gone   further 
                        than the country that slips
                                    and slips through
                                                my fingers

 

 

AFTERNOON CITY FAR

 

One breath    Listen in then out 
toward another life 
removed
 
It comes to me now as in other times 
un-indentured I lived    All children 
are such    Raised off that sudden perch 
 
into tenuous air and flight
we leave    She left    Fair passage 
they said offering no word

 

of what such exchange meant
Or means now looking down vertiginous
onto an old country sought 
 
its diffracted waters neither storm nor haven only
a familiar strangeness to its curve    On land    
foothold for a monkey god footprint of a Buddha 

 

left engraving the impermanence of solace now 
and at the hour of our death uttered inside 
hymn-girded chapels    such crossroads allow

 

no rest for a traveler   Swept beyond limits    
Look    there is nothing there     
is nothing there 
nothing


© Ru Freeman. All rights reserved.

 

FURTHER READING

"Words for Sri Lanka: The Heartbeat of My Country," by Malinda Seneviratne


Published Apr 23, 2019   Copyright 2019 Ru Freeman

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