Archive for December, 2008

Every Christmas, I read John Milton’s poem “On the Morning Of Christ’s Nativity”; now, if you wish, you can, too:


Merry Christmas!

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Last night, the Wheaton Writers’ Guild met at my house for a splendid little Indian Christmas celebration.

Among other things, we ate an Indian meal of chicken curry over basmati rice with garlic nan, which could be dipped in mint sauce or mango chutney, as well as samosas, chicken tikka masala, and rice pudding for dessert. We drank mango lassi. We played Uno.

Afterwards, we drank tea and read Indian poetry, some ancient and some modern. I picked up Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book, Black Candle, which told the stories of many Indian women and their suffering. Just before a poem called “The Quilt,” I read this Bengali folk song:

The parrot flies to the custard-apple tree.
The bees are among the pomegranates.
I call you and call you, little bride.
Why do you not speak?

The singer could be a man speaking to a woman … or a woman speaking to her own soul.

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You visit me inside the apple.
Together we can hear the knife
paring around and around us, carefully,
so the peel won’t tear.

You speak to me. I trust your voice
because it has lumps of hard pain in it
the way real honey
has lumps of wax from the honeycomb.

I touch your lips with my fingers:
that too is a prophetic gesture.
And your lips are red, the way a burnt field
is black.
It’s all true.

You visit me inside the apple
and you’ll stay with me inside the apple
until the knife finishes its work.

Yehuda Amichai
trans. by Chana Bloch
The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (1996)

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