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This poem is taken from PN Review 211, Volume 39 Number 5, May - June 2013.

'Weddings & Deaths' and Other Poems Lucy Hamilton
Weddings & Deaths

I am papering the walls with unpublished manuscripts. I work like an artist, laying the first wash of colour over the lines of terza rima. The Prologue opens with a sun-burst of aureolin yellow, the eight tercets instantly revealing a rhythm of slightly varying breaths, the final single line rounding off the section but leaving it open, like a path with a stile. Two marginal glosses - emulated from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - hover on the page as I daub them in. Finally my signature. The casual visitor might smile at my achievement, perhaps surprised at the childish ... or by the resemblance to his own financial bar graphs.

The Sheikh enters the room. Neither historian nor meteorologist he is both palimpsest and weather-vane. He stands in the centre of the room, head cocked to the side. He doesn't move but I know he is crossing the stile. He closes his eyes, piercing through Dante and three written languages. He begins to hum then sits on the floor, lips pursed in a whisper. Soon he is singing, body rocking to the ancient customs that scroll before his inner eye - the nomads & love-quests, the weddings & deaths - fingers plucking the oud, voice now joyful now lamenting ...

                                                                                arabic text



Women & Men

It needs the solid knowledge of a soul
Who having lived and loved in woman's body
...


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