"In Bhopal" [ghazal]
What it means to be an American
will I discover in Bhopal?
the music that time didn't quite forget
can I recover in Bhopal?
on this rainy October morning my DC cabdriver
chats in Amharak
sargam pearled out from the Sanskritic tongue
may I uncover in Bhopal
it's not that I'm generally depressive but
a malaise with autumn pulls in
I'll be to spring's dark and to winter's light
a cheerful lover in Bhopal
the Earth is the same and yet different in every quarter
of the green globe
she presum- ably sees the selfsame stars
pinioned above her in Bhopal
Ardeo's life wasn't an accident but can he yet
reclaim the disaster?
this riddle's so-intransigent answer he
hopes to discover in Bhopal
chats in Amharak: i.e., on his cellphone (of course); there are myriad Ethiopean cabdrivers in this city; I don't however speak Amharak.
(The poem concerns a contemplated move to a music school in the middle of India.)
initial draft jotted (while en route to office) in blank pages at end of a paperback poetry book at hand -- Agha Shahid Ali's Rooms Are Never Finished (2002)