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PN Review 275
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This poem is taken from PN Review 141, Volume 28 Number 1, September - October 2001.

Four Poems Moniza Alvi


Fortunate souls have countless lovers.
The silver birches love them.

The fat sizzling in the pan.
The alphabet loves them, even the rarer letters,

and the vacancies between words.
The heroic titles of books love them.

The doorknobs and switches.
The paint thinner, the smear of apricot jam.

And the bubble harbours rainbow lights
for them and swells like a soul itself,

adored, buoyant, doomed to reach
perfection - just before it bursts.

The Sky

Holding the sky above our heads,
separating it from the earth -
it's an important job
and someone has to do it.
Only the most reliable
and aspiring souls
are given such employment.
Their task to make us feel
that something must be up there,
beyond beyond,
in white or grey or blue.

Distracted by the birds,
the agitation of the topmost twigs,
the souls ache. Ache
from the pressure of the sky.

Without Us

Souls are divorced many times.
They exist as discarded fragments -
a name left behind,

an unfashionable scarf,
nail parings.
They are so light without us.

They survive alone
like bedsit dwellers
very close to their own atmosphere.

They can cope with this.
But a room is uneasy
with an invisible occupant.

        The landlady catches her breath
        and pulls her chair closer to the fire.


Bring nothing with you the notice says.
And dutifully the souls shed everything.

But desperately
they gather up nothing and hold it

close to them, as if it were a child.
Nothing is more precious than life,

the souls chant. Let's dance.
And then the music stops.

And then they lose their voice.

This poem is taken from PN Review 141, Volume 28 Number 1, September - October 2001.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to
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