Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Malkeet Kaur writes

Where I come from

There's no group I belong to, 
No caste no sect no race.

And one step short of losing a gender. 
But that is not possible.

I have been carrying this bleeding burden for too long, 
For the past thirty-seven seven years or so.

I have been doing it with such panache 
the uterus and I are synonymous now.

There's no country I come from 
No known city or town.

I come from within a box of baked bricks I call home.

A box echoing the clashing pans  
And as I step out I bump into shoulders all around -

Frozen and stiff

When you return to the place with mauled twigs you call home, 
You know you come from a place that could be anywhere.

But it's neither here nor there 
Yet one step short of nowhere 
 Image result for shoulders painting
 City of Broad Shoulders -- Ian Starnes

1 comment:

  1. The painting "City of Broad Shoulders" alludes to a common misquotation of line five of Carl Sandburg's poem, "Chicago":

    Hog Butcher for the World,
    Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
    Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
    Stormy, husky, brawling,
    City of the Big Shoulders:

    They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
    And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
    And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
    And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
    Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
    Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
    Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
    Building, breaking, rebuilding,
    Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
    Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
    Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
    Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
    Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.


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