Pather Panchali, directed by Satyajit Ray in 1955 – music by Ravi Shankar, is a beautiful and gripping story in film. A visual poem – a slow and deep look at a small world. A marvelous, must-see work.
“Living by the Red River”
Blood flows in me, by what does it have to do
With the rain that is falling?
In me, scarlet-jacketed armies march into the rain
Across dark fields. My blood lies still,
Indifferent to cannons on the ships of imperialists
Sometimes I have to sleep
In dangerous places, on cliffs underground,
Walls that still hold the whole prints
Of ancient ferns.
“One Kind of Hunger”
The Seneca carry stories in satchels.
They are made of pounded corn and a grandmother’s throat.
The right boy will approach the dampness of a forest with a sling, a modest twining wreath for the bodies of birds. A liquid eye.
When ruffed from leaves, the breath of flight is dissolute.
What else, the moment of weightlessness before a great plunge?
In a lost place, a stone will find the boy.
Give me your birds, she will say, and I will tell you a story.
A stone, too, admits hunger.
The boy is willing. Loses all his beaks.
What necklace will his grandmother make now.
The sun has given the stone a mouth. With it, she sings of what has been lost.
She sings and sings and sings.
The boy listens, forgets, remembers. Becomes distracted.
The necklace will be heavy, impossible to wear.
My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horse strained at his clicking tongue.
An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.
I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.
– from Parable of the Talents
Irrational and blind,
Or fear looms,
Defiant and closed.
“won’t you celebrate with me”
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.