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i would like to be a dot in a painting by miro

moniza alvi

I would like to be a dot in a painting by Miro.

Barely distinguishable from other dots,
it’s true, but quite uniquely placed.
And from my dark centre

I’d survey the beauty of the linescape
and wonder -- would it be worthwhile
to roll myself towards the lemon stripe,

Centrally poised, and push my curves
against its edge, to give myself
a little attention?

But it’s fine where I am.
I’ll never make out what’s going on
around me, and that’s the joy of it.

The fact that I’m not a perfect circle
makes me more interesting in this world.
People will stare forever --

Even the most unemotional get excited.
So here I am, on the edge of animation,
a dream, a dance,a fantastic construction,

A child’s adventure.
And nothing in this tawny sky
can get too close, or move too far away.

da The Country at my Shoulder, 1993
(Traduzione di Andrea Sirotti)

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takeaway

moniza alvi


Our customer has faith in our foil containers,
our steam – that she takes away as easily

as raindrops on her new coat.
But notice how her life stands still,

neither warming, nor cooling.
She is expecting something to happen

before the grains of rice harden.
She is waiting – for a train?

A baby? A job? For the new world?
She has forgotten what she is waiting for.

We must take her inside
where it is bitter and golden with turmeric,

lead her where our bowls and spoons
scoop up the indoor air,

and the sun enters like an angel,
brightening our sauces.

Let us take her in case she has a pain,
in case the menu is longer than her life.

Let’s donate her our burgundy curtains,
our indefinable smells.

The remnants of our country.


da Carrying my Wife, 2000
(Traduzione di Andrea Sirotti)

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shoes and socks

moniza alvi

In the vast forecourt of the Badshahi Mosque
my cousin pulls off his trainers.
I’ve never seen so many holes in socks!

The exhibits here are shoes and socks
temporarily abandoned by their owners,
a little hope tied in the laces –

Ali Baba sandals, business shoes
all precious to the shoe-keeper.
Azam’s socks have gaping holes,

one for each of his teenage years?
And through them slip his studies,
political career, his rebellion,

his dutiful laying of the table.
Religion rumbles through the holes,
the insistent cry of the muezzin,

fears of what will happen to him if
he sleeps with a girl before marriage
and is discovered…

Those who desire to fulfil their desires,
or wish to free themselves of desire,
leave their footwear paraded on the steps,

each shoe a small vessel for prayer.
Trainers for the new world, the old world.
In sight of the towering gateway –

the earthbound shoes and socks.


da A Bowl of Warm Air, 1996
(Traduzione di Andrea Sirotti)

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Anno 0, Numero 2
December 2003

 

 

 

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