Span: Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 32, 1992
Postcolonialism
Edited by Jenny de Reuck & Hugh Webb

Sun and Moon

Alamgir Hashmi

Alamgir Hashmi

Sun and Moon

(For Aniq -- when old enough to read it)

1

Sunday was the best day
to play ducks and drakes
with one's spare time at riverside,
not so pink-hedged by the weeklong thrift,
the water almost level with the land
and often kissing the lower bank mushroom
of every ten days ago
and its side gravel.

The resident brown snail there,
every sunday, was seen airing slowly
his awkward opinions;
the tv antennae on his twopin head transmit
the double-entendre
of the habitual wet's grouting
in the country's passhole.

One could also have one's lone sausage
with potato salad, or go Fanti
with one's girl and the self-made fire
from dry pine sticks.
Almost a perfect day,
instead of counting the blackshirts
that still lurk in the Alpine woods.

Could I then change places,
see that I may be becoming part of that
which is not part of me?
The trees around me dropped their leaves,
shook off their birds, and made
the autumn-beds of their brown leaves
often enough to make more autumn songs.
But I the same always; always the same;
too much the same.
The woman I loved was made of meerschaum
and one Swiss monsoon broke in two.
Love moved out; the tree-barks darkened in the face;
the river froze over;
the land sighed beneath the early snow
of its absences.
The world--its affairs, arias of intent,
offices--ganged up on me.

2

Sibelius, your seemingly silent bust in that other wood
is one with the snow and its wintry mind;
and in time is green, fernlike again
in the notes made of your country's air.
Yes, it is possible, elsewhere,
that an orchestral intention is realized
in being read so well by nature.
I am not promised any such nor have recourse
to what's in the ear but will not ring out
in the time that remains.
Yet, strangely, as I write this,
tears come down like a rain that strings all instruments, making new channels of grief in this poem
and across that continent of pain.

3

Is sadness a formation of land
across all waters,
in which the inland seas of joy and grief
mutate like Moving Rocks
to wash on an invisible shore?

Sadness is the only constant sun
melting one away;
each minute one gives up a bit more,
until the sun sets upon its own consequence.

How am I to change the laws of motion,
replace the continents into those symmetries
of love on which the moonlight
will not be a blemish;
hate not exceed love;
love's analogies not become its functions;
one's own life not stretch itself beyond one's gift?

4

Each day is a live wire
passing thought to the illogic of its conclusions:
a flame-tree's brilliant red or yellow flowers,
as if it were a sunset in the Margallas;
an image on which to fix myself
and, possibly, mint memory back into desire,
all my other coinage spent in Europe's shopping centres.

Son, when you were 3
and one day your mother said "You are my good son",
you replied "Not moon?" and laughed a knowing laugh,
as if the tangled planets and the stars over us
could hold the language for that one day
to a feeling that would stay,
meanings to remain for all just the same.
The family's language has changed in the meantime;
-- you have lost your English and your Urdu,
and now you speak only German.
But you, to me, are still both: my son, my moon,
in this same sky arching

between places.
Life translates like that.
Time lapses but, somehow,
is always present to deal with.
In the house-garden here, a tall,
many-branched tree grows with fine leaves.
In the moonlight, with no one watching,
vagrants from the neighbourhood come around,
aiming their stones sometimes
to take from it what they can;
or smooching the pear-shaped fruit
ripe on its branch,
which surpasses all titular explanations
of the spring, its sovereign flower
in the sunlight gone,
transparent as Monday or Saturday,
both its timely announcements
pendulous on the sterm.


Islamabad
15 December, 1989

25 May, 1991


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