Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medeellin/2001

Ramya Jirasinghe
(Sri Lanka)

In the Tropical Garden,
i climbed a half wall
to pluck bright orange


Happy in recognition,
they beckoned us through familiarity of taste in the deserted garden where alien trees wilted in the dry salinated heat.

But it was rotten fruit.

A meaningless discovery, made sadder by the rotten core broiling in unfamiliar climes, like the banana fronds
swaying beneath the monastery windows

confused of their own process.

Only the Shoe-flowers seemed to have adjusted to bloom in all their profuse glory along hotel doorways and peasant's parks, putting to shame
The Monument wrought in history's arrogance that saw little.

Discovered nothing.

School of Oriental and African Studies

Now Said

is teaching me of history blackened
by leather-shod feet and red freckled faces.


"it's all there", they say, "in Orientalism".
"Terrible!" says the my Oxbridge Don, speaking fluent Swahili, aghast in his politically correct sensibilities.
i stare in his face as i see images of wienzied brown figures in the heat of the Pettah sun forced into
cheap trousers and crude T shirts, smelling of sweaty armpits in humid buses.

So i smile and check myself from asking him what he's doing
teaching me what happened.

The Centre.

The Turn of the Ants

In the hot, humid jungles, rich flowers rot in the weight of their own nectar
disintegrating into dripping pulp that falls putrid to earth, suffocating Colonies of Ants.
So the jungle beats without a Heart.
This is a meaningless search for a missing core among dead trees, rotting flowers.

Out. Out.
from this flawed tropic where bluebottles feed on the blood of the ants.

But no!

let the ants turn around
furious and large with new courage, brave hearts and create anew, veins that beat and beat, strong
with pure red blood. Made precious.

Given new value.@

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