The Yal Devi Collection – two poems about a train

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Poem 1

Kip’s song

they say they brought
the old train back
you ask that from northrop frye
he’d beg to differ
and so will i

we can still do it
tap the sweet palmyrah
the sweetness in our hearts
from clarence to beig

to rukmani to galleface kisses
to kassapa’s topless babes
on hardrock surfaces
lovers à la isurumuniya

our songs
from kataragama
to siripade samanala kanda…
to mungo nanda’s daughter
before mungo jerry came along

we can borrow
from the cinnamon peelers
the english patients
its all here
we can do it
but Kip holds my hand,
so tight.

Poem 2

foment

the nose ring
sings
a railway map’s foment
pining
for those who cannot
smell
this sweet milk

or do they.
as they rotted sweet acrid
fermented
decomposed
piled up
the dead disappeared
dream of thosai?

the devi brings back
as you step over the dead
they
sit with you
in the railway carriage
when you wash your hands
they watch

can you see?
he sits across from you
watching
unable to dream
of thosai
she watches
pining silent
to stir the silky batter
with her bare hands.

Renuka Mendis, Toronto, October 12, 2014

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