The Postman's Last Song for the Moon
You glide in plain view, gravity's nearest slave,
floating outside our windows, just out of reach,
an ice fruit we'd love to pluck
from the sky's jet branches.
What stops us is we know
the tides would roar and lunge, break their contract if we did:
wall-high waves rushing houses and stores, vaulting over gates,
an army of madmen dancing on drowned asphalt.
Rain-wrapped, fog-tangled, how easily we forget
oceans that have dried and shrunk
to ravines where the eye never settles,
the heart now never goes. Like the Sea of Tranquillity:
so wildly utopian we gave it to you,
tattooed it on your skin's acceptance.
Safe behind glass and our chartreuse curtains,
we watch it float by on full-moon nights and smile.
The mortgage of our nights and days is so quickly claimed.
You measure breath in the centuries it takes
to carve a pensive ellipse through space.
Messages conveyed, you dip below mouldy clouds
or submit with reluctance to an eclipse,
never more than half deciphered.
You keep your dark side hidden as you shine,
a riddle orbiting in the wide-open eye.
Sickle of the harvest, lantern of our last rooms!
Green moon of January nights,
you'll bark at our windows,
a dog begging for a bone
long after we've gone.
Other voices will wake up to answer:
survivors from the minefields of sleep,
they will pelt you with curses, extradite you to memory.
[for Jeet Thayil]
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