First, grant me my sense of history: I did it for posterity, for kindergarten teachers and a clear moral: Little girls shouldn't wander off in search of strange flowers, and they mustn't speak to strangers. And then grant me my generous sense of plot: Couldn't I have gobbled her up right there in the jungle? Why did I ask her where her grandma lived? As if I, a forest-dweller, didn't know of the cottage under the three oak trees and the old woman lived there all alone? As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before? And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf, now my only reputation. But I was no child-molester though you'll agree she was pretty. And the huntsman: Was I sleeping while he snipped my thick black fur and filled me with garbage and stones? I ran with that weight and fell down, simply so children could laugh at the noise of the stones cutting through my belly, at the garbage spilling out with a perfect sense of timing, just when the tale should have come to an end.
Agha Shahid Ali - 1949-2001
Even the Rain
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain? But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain. “Our glosses / wanting in this world”—“Can you remember?” Anyone!—“when we thought / the poets taught” even the rain? After we died—That was it!—God left us in the dark. And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain. Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house. For mixers, my love, you’d poured—what?—even the rain. Of this pear-shaped orange’s perfumed twist, I will say: Extract Vermouth from the bergamot, even the rain. How did the Enemy love you—with earth? air? and fire? He held just one thing back till he got even: the rain. This is God’s site for a new house of executions? You swear by the Bible, Despot, even the rain? After the bones—those flowers—this was found in the urn: The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain. What was I to prophesy if not the end of the world? A salt pillar for the lonely lot, even the rain. How the air raged, desperate, streaming the earth with flames— To help burn down my house, Fire sought even the rain. He would raze the mountains, he would level the waves; he would, to smooth his epic plot, even the rain. New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me— To make this claim Memory’s brought even the rain. They’ve found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these? No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.