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The Wheel

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Someone is about to come but doesn't. Is about
to turn on the stairs but doesn't.
I button my shirt
come from the laundry with all its dazzling blots,
like one's peculiar fate.
I shut the door, sit quietly.
The fan begins to whirl
and turn the air into a whirlpool of fire,
making a noise bigger than the house.
Someone is about to come and doesn't.
It doesn't matter.
Calmly I lean against the wall,
become a wall.
A wounded bird on my shoulder laughs raucously,
laughs at the shoulder it perches on!

My soul of flesh and blood puts a long thread in the needle's eye.
I stitch a patch on my son's umbrella.
I pick his nose and name the pickings:
I call one "Elephant" and another "Lion."
Someone is about to come and doesn't. Is about
to turn on the stairs and doesn't.
I tickle my children,
they tickle me in turn; I laugh,
with a will; for I do not feel tickled.
It doesn't matter.
I scan their fingers for signs:
Nine conches and one wheel.



Note: "Nine conches and one wheel" are formations of lines on the tips of fingers which, in Indian palmistry, foretell a happy life.

Source: Poetry (September 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Wheel

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