What happened to the city that made us promises,
promises we had the luxury to believe or not?
Night caved its streets,
collapsed its buildings,
and crushed its millions of screens.
And, now, from the crushed screens the flat,
extrude themselves, escape, and flow, flat,
over the rubble . . .
flat images desperate to become round,
flailing across the river from one
dimension to the next--
brutalized children, drowned fathers,
drowning in the river and then in
the eye and then in the mind--
flat images stealing quietly
over the rubble,
flowing under the cracked sills and over
the broken stairs,
climbing into the city’s caved beds
to wrap around the sleepers like cellophane,
wrapping the complicated sleepers in a
simple suffering, the sleepers
huddling in their dreams,
with their longings beside them,
covering their ears with their longings
while mobs with torches rage across the rubble.
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954, and went to America as a small child. He is the author of the poetry books “Wild Kingdom,” “The Long Meadow,” “The Disappearances,” (Harper-Collins India), “3 Sections,” and “That Was Now, This Is Then”, as well as many essays, reviews, and memoir fragments. His work has been widely published and anthologized and recognized with a number of honors, among them the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.