I’ve been occasionally posting one of the poems from my book, Music from Words. My hope is that some dear readers will buy one or more copies of the book.
Today’s work is an antiwar poem, as Galway Kinnell noted after reading it a few years back. The poem is called “Maya,” which is a woman’s name and a Hindu concept. For Hindis, Maya is the illusion that the physical world is real. In the poem, the physical world is an adulterous affair that plays out in a motel room between the narrator and a woman whose husband has been severely injured in war. The narrator wonders in despair whether his lover is actually thinking of him or her husband while they make love.
Afterwards my gloom observes you
gather floor-strewn tumulus of clothes.
The bathroom light reveals a passing wraith,
spectral furnishings and photographs that knit
at once to shaft of light, compress to darkness.
Muffled water arrows pound an unseen slurry.
What lie this time—long lines, wrong turn?
Will he smell me on your body?
Will he lacerate your qualms with blissful chatter
when you push his wheelchair, spoon him soup,
climb inside the chores of cleaning up a war?
I am sieve you comb through sand in search
of tender, vital jinnis. And at that fragile burst,
in that isogloss between conceived and real,
mist of golden pooling in your lap,
swan-dive open wing enflaming overhead,
were you with me or with him
with someone else or by yourself?
The water stops, the door unlocks unsettled light
like a man who’s run away from thoughts.
– Marc Jampole
Originally published in Music from Words (Bellday Books, 2007)