Pantoum

Taking on an aspect of the Orient,
Skies full of hatchets and oranges
Love, uninvited, hangs in the blood:
But what is a kingdom to a dying emperor?
 
Skies full of hatchets and oranges
Keep the birds singing, sorrows fresh—
But what is a kingdom to a dying emperor,
As the nights grow steadily into mountains.
 
Keep the birds singing, sorrows fresh—
The princess braids these into a necklace
As the nights grow steadily into mountains,
Why, even regrets recede unexpectedly.
 
The princess braids these into a necklace:
Roads and rivers that lead away from the palace.
Why, even regrets recede unexpectedly
In a solitude full of wars and songs.
 
Roads and rivers that lead away from the palace
Never converge in that vast landscape;
In a solitude full of wars and songs,
The words remain light and fugitive.
 
Never converge in that vast landscape
In the way that stars keep their distance.
The words remain light and fugitive
In an anticipation crossed with absence.

In the way that stars keep their distance,
Love, uninvited, hangs in the blood
In an anticipation crossed with absence,
Taking on an aspect of the Orient.

Sandra Lim, "Pantoum" from Loveliest Grotesque.  Copyright © 2006 by Sandra Lim.  Reprinted by permission of Kore Press Inc..
Source: Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press Inc., 2006)
More Poems by Sandra Lim