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Posted: Thursday October 15, 2015
“Married to English”: A Poem from COSMOPHILIA

Cosmophilia, which means “love of ornament,” is the deliberate and well-paced debut collection of poetry by Rahat Kurd, now available for $16.95. See photos from the launch of Cosmophilia, which took place last week in Vancouver.

An emotionally powerful collection, the poems in Cosmophilia follow the elaborate, unexpected turns of the poet’s imagination and memory, intertwining political conflict and family history, and translating multiple glittering facets of Muslim culture into the immediacy of embodied, urban Canadian experience.

Here on Meta-Talon, enjoy the final poem from Cosmophilia, “Married to English” (from pages 79 through 81).

Married to English
(Lines Composed at Brockton Oval)

From your moss-pelted north face
and your pearled grey Junes, English,

I learn to love your sunny hesitations better
than if I were driven to seek the shade

from gorgeous Urdu’s melting afternoons.
English, how perfectly wedded I am to you.

Here’s the ring paved smooth: my dark fidelity.
Here’s turf enough to pledge my troth,

and men to sport white for passion,
for the pageant of giving me away.

And they give me away, English,
in every one of your riot-scorched capitals

with raised toasts for shaken fists,
with tea at halftime, and how lovely to see you today

by evening post. You do the thing
decently, English. Your sixes and factory bricks

make little rooms for girls like the girl I was,
your child bride, to hide in; your attics and alcoves

just suit the neat points of our elbows.
Our eyes mirror the shine

off your rows of gilt-stamped spines,
and apples gleam in your dim cellars.

So we munch, knees tucked,
content as orphans

grown already forgetful
of the names of our parents’ killers.

Pitiless English, what have I become?
My eyes turn in the gloaming,

take delight from the patterned edge
of lichen bound tightly to stone.

At home in the Himalayas my sisters laugh –
the soldiers nail CLOSED MILITARY ZONE

into the flourishing poplars
with your unconquerable precision.

Will you do me the honour, English? Will you permit
this hand to claim the cool sleeve of your pen?

From your daggers and turnkeys I’ve learned
possessiveness – here my grip tightens – to say,

I’m yours, I’m yours – your humble servant,
your strictest praetor; the wrathful scourge

of your ill-users and callow prattlers –
yours devotedly, English, yours till death.

It’s true, I whisper tender Arabic curses
over lies you swore were sterling; I console myself

with half-remembered Farsi endearments.
You keep aloof from their antique silver

but make a din of clumsy names
for pleasures that silence other tongues –

then I blush for you, English.
You indulge every sequin stitched into chiffon

however patient my mudra-curled fingers,
you know the silk ends crushed and tear-stained;

you like my dark lashes so doubled. You hold me
rapt every night; every night you exult, you fool,

believing, with your tongue in my mouth,
I can never say I’m leaving.