Annika Ruohonen, No, 2010
© Annika Ruohonen All Rights Reserved
Used With Permission of the Artist
Consider the Pomegranate
All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie . . .
~ W.H. Auden, "September 1, 1939"
Consider the pomegranate
this winter, peeled back, crimson-lipped
against gleamed teeth, each an ivory-handled knife
slashing to pith, loosing the fruit's elixir,
staving hunger freed. Persephone's mouth Pluto stained,
sealing her fate that she might mime not
spring but his own Hades six months of twelve.
Think of the Nile, candles on the water,
luminaries jewel-cut, heat-polished,
fit to a crown for mourning's wear. What fabled
kohl-eyed queen might stake, her sinuous
path to desert ends. Sphinx her secrets none
betrayed, the asp held high and striking quick
her favors' protests, white jasmine veils so summoned, stilled.
Regard the signs that bullets make
of dreams still falling in Cairo's streets,
rejoined on a bridge of martyrs, relayed
in Alexandria split seconds before white smoke
succeeds the sound of metal against dry bone pierced,
pieced, and quelled. What round of arms
in arms begins with chanting sweet street songs.
Imagine the taste of orange crossed
with pomegranate, scarlet-jacketed,
seed-plucked, the juice half-blood-blushed, too
soon anti-oxidant thin, a watered-down
wine dizzying bandaged heads held where desires
mapped before lockdown, fidelity trapped in gesture,
rock and stick in hand, breach barriers in season's coldest month.
See who cannot be counted, their numbers
tolling with every step advanced
before spinning turrets, their breaths, hoarsely formed, rising
as hints of their morning selves, revealing code
in a fluttering of hands, tri-colored flags making
their own love poems, streaming as water in a garden
in Babel, wind on the bridge carrying hopes like confetti.
Fix fast. The pomegranate once straight razor
slashed becomes itself in pieces. Passed
hand to hand in Tahrir Square, its sections sweeten
lips' loudest demands, bear fuel for the burning
on the ground; its skin, peeling away, discarded
with the silence remanded in evening prayers
no longer holding firm.
© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas All Rights Reserved
My deep appreciation for Annika Ruohonen, who allowed me to use her beautiful photograph to complement my poem. The image speaks to me of great strength and connection, of unbroken fidelity to ideals we all hold dear, of hope borne out of darkness.