Each morning I read a few lines from ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North.’

It was ‘Prognosis’ I was touched by – battles with cancer have been present in my world of late; affecting family and friends; affecting people I care about. And now, as I scribe this, the end of the year is always the time for looking back, looking forward. I typed in ‘The Best Poetry of 2018’ and there it was on a NY Times site.

There have been significant deaths this past year – Aretha, an ex-President and a US statesman who stood up to Trump. The author of ‘Prognosis’ was born in the same year as I, but did not survive 2018. Food for thought, food for thought.

So I delved deeper to discover more about Meena. Hooked by that first poem I came across, I was scanning to see what else she had to offer – and then that line reeled me in. A further connection to me, my island and my father:-

Each morning I read a few lines from ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North.’


Meena Alexander was Indian, bought up in Kerala and the Sudan, educated in Britain and finding her fame in the US. She wrote award winning books of verse, had publish two novels and numerous academic tomes. She finished her career being Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies at City University, NYC. She helped keeping poetry from becoming a lost art.

The poem is an invention that exists in spite of history.’


You’ll be better tomorrow
And the next and the next.

Our window crammed with bees,
Geese cavorting on the hill

A green pond where we floated
Never dreaming such a fate

Might befall one of us
Mad dance of tumors

This serous thing, spelled differently
But pronounced like the cloud

Cirrus—papa made me see
Lifting me high in afternoon heat

A pallor stroking the inner sky
Ligaments striated

A high interiority picked with ice
Finicky music we dare not hear.

The men with Odysseus
Packed their ears with wax

One or two tore out their tongues
Right there on the Cretan coast.

Morning Ritual

I sit in a patch of shade cast by a pipal tree.
Each morning I read a few lines from The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Where did Basho go?
He entered a cloud, and came out the other side:

Everything is broken and numinous.
Tiled roofs, outcrops of stone, flesh torn from molluscs.

Far away, a flotilla of boats. A child sucking stones.
There is a forked path to this moment.

Trees have no elsewhere.
Leaves very green.


More Poetry by Meena Alexander =


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