Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Consider the Pomegranate (Poem)


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"

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

I offer this poem for this week's "One Shot Wednesday" event at One Stop Poetry. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems. Feel free to add your own.

25 comments:

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

What a marvelous poem, Maureen. With vivid imagery, mystery and secret flavors worthy of the pomegranate, one of the most beautiful fruits (and one of my favorite were it easier to eat!). From ancient myth to the bleeding present, what sweep!

Glynn said...

We recently saw the movie "Cairo Time," which was nothing about Egypt's current troubles, directly anyway. But it could have been, should have been.

This poem is both an attempt to understand and an explication. And it is truly wonderful.

jen revved said...

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...."-- gorgeous lyricism, assonance, consonance in these lines, Maureen-- and

"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, "as water in a garden in Babel"-- such resonance here-- invoking the tongues of the water and of Babel.... the gathering in and weaving of the mythic and contemporary is fabulous. Your indubitably hard work on this poem shows in spades. I love the line "mime not spring"-- oooo! I hope you'll permit me to use that line as a prompt/epigraph-- Brava! xxxj

S. Etole said...

your words paint potent images ...

Claudia said...

wow - this was a tight write maureen ..wind on the bridge carrying hopes like confetti.. fantastic imagery

Brian Miller said...

wow these are all great but the third one is the one that caught me up...excellent...

Hannah Stephenson said...

This poem is special. It reverberates with emotion under the surface.

moondustwriter said...

A painful wash in sweet juice of pomegranate and the residue of gun fire

Excellently molded piece

L.L. Barkat said...

Gave me chills. And I sit hushed.

'Midst all I loved, this especially...

"in Babel, wind on the bridge"

Beachanny said...

I'm always awed by your mastery of insinuation by sound, imagery, and juxtaposition. You paint more than feelings, you touch more than all sensory information. I felt as I'd been there and experienced it. Excellent work, as always.

hedgewitch said...

Mystical, full of that desert cleanliness that is sparse but beautiful in every atom. Glad you let this one steep, as it has yielded a heady and sustaining brew.

Maureen said...

I'm deeply grateful for these wonderful comments. Thank you.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Wow.

I got carried away -- on the wind, like confetti carrying hopes.

I got carried down -- like Persephone into Hades.

and in the end, I came back up, breathing deeply of the rich dank smell of ripening fruit and freedom breaking the surface of waters rippling with a call for freedom.

Powerful writing Maureen. Thank you for taking me with you. Absolutely stunning.

Shashi said...

Dear Maureen

'in arms begins with chanting sweet street songs.'... Liked this line very much...a great verse.. so vivid and creatively penned... thanks


ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com/2011/02/whispers-another-kind-of-valentines-day.html

Laura said...

Oh, Maureen. The should and the now and the beauty that beats still. I love these glimpses into your heart and your passion for mankind.

I am on "Remember" now. Words cannot express how I am enjoying your poetry. Neruda's Memoirs is so beautiful.

Ami Mattison said...

Maureen, surely this is some of your most powerful writing. I'm blown away with how you intertwine myth with current events--a truly brilliant gesture.

These lines are amazing: "tri-colored flags making/ their own love poems, streaming as water in a garden/in Babel, wind on the bridge carrying hopes like confetti."

I must say congratulations for achieving some truly fine writing.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Pomegranites make for such great metaphores - as you've demonstrated so well here, Maureen!

Joanne said...

Very powerful, Maureen. Great juxtaposition of the real and ancient symbolism of this blooded fruit and the wounds of change in the world it grows in.

blueoran said...

One you bite into that sweet fruit within any acre of Hell, there's no going back. History is always trampling the mysteries -- Cairo I think has been stained with blood and pomegranate juice for as long as life-in-death has been an Egyptian metaphor, Pharaoh the god's stand-in, the despot with the authority of Heaven -- until someone in the street says No Way. Can the revolution survive its likely own death? Hope springs eternal like, well, Spring. If the protesters in Tahrir Square make it that long. The poem's sharp instruction to see what is there and Beyond in the same gaze is what only a poem can do -- at least, a poem of this magnitude. Take a bow.

blueoran said...

Once you bite into that sweet fruit within any acre of Hell, there's no going back. History is always trampling the mysteries -- Cairo I think has been stained with blood and pomegranate juice for as long as life-in-death has been an Egyptian metaphor, Pharaoh the god's stand-in, the despot with the authority of Heaven -- until someone in the street says No Way. Can the revolution survive its likely own death? Hope springs eternal like, well, Spring. If the protesters in Tahrir Square make it that long. The poem's sharp instruction to see what is there and Beyond in the same gaze is what only a poem can do -- at least, a poem of this magnitude. Take a bow.

Kavita said...

Whheeww..what vivid imagery, Maureen!
Yes, I like the metaphors here used to depict hope born from misery.. to depict light seen from a breach of trust... to depict the significance of proactive measures... I like it all!

You have given us a glimpse at the goings on at Egypt, and with that, you have expressed your concern for the same... and the message is very effectively brought across here!!

Very nicely written , my dear..

gautami tripathy said...

This speaks to me. Thank you for posting this...

ransom

kenny said...

And see how the last stanza sings! Great poem.

Steve Isaak said...

Great line breaks, intense use of imagery. Exemplary work.

Marcus Goodyear said...

I voted for you!