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The Floating post office

The post boat was like a gondola
that called at each houseboat. It 
carried a clerk, weighing scales, 
and a bell to announce arrivals.
Has he been kept from us? Portents 
of rain, rumors, ambushed letters . 
Curtained palanquin, fetch our word, 
bring us word: Who has died? Who'll live?
Has the order gone out to close 
the waterways... the one open road?
And then we saw the boat being rowed 
through the fog of death, the sentence 
passed on our city. It came close 
to reveal smudged black-ink letters 
which the postmanhe was alive 
gave us, like signs, without a word,
and we took them, without a word. 
From our deck we'd seen the hill road 
bringing a jade rain, near-olive, 
down from the temple, some penitent's 
cymbaled prayer? He took our letters, 
and held them, like a lover, close
to his heart. And the rain drew close.
Was there, we asked, a new password 
blood, blood shaken into letters, 
cruel primitive script that would erode 
our saffron link to the past? Tense 
with autumn, the leaves, drenched olive, 
fell on graveyards, crying "O live!'' 
What future would the rain disclose? 
O Rain, abandon all pretense, 
now drown the world, give us your word,
ring, sweet assassin of the road, 
the temple bell! For if letters
come, I will answer those letters 
and my year will be tense, alive 
with love! The temple receives the road: 
there, the rain has come to a close. 
Here the waters rise; our each 
word in the fog awaits a sentence:
His hand on the scales, he gives his word: 
Our letters will be rowed through olive 
canals, tense waters no one can close.

Tribute: Agha Shahid Ali
Agha Shahid Ali 
Surprisingly cheerful person 
The Floating post office 
Dream of Glass Bangles
Donít Ask Me for That Love Again Read
Kashmir without a post office Read
After the Last Sky Read
Ghazal for Daniel Hall Read
Farewell for Patricia O'Neill Read

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