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Zaffar Kunial

Poppy

Poppy

Poppy

Who crops up wherever ground is opened, broken …
No, this is not enough.
 
Who crops up where acidic ground is neutralised – in Belgium
blasted bones and rubble added their twist of lime 
turning the disturbed earth red …
No, this is not enough.
 
Then where seeds lay buried, dormant – those older than I am,
catching light, can stir from their long sleep in time,
like history, raising a hand, a head …
No, this is not enough.
 
Remember? Who’s there in the first script, on a Mesopotamian
tablet: Hul and Gil – ‘joy flower’ – a cuneiform
cocktail, our earliest remedy …
 
Who begot war in China, was named by Arabs Abou-el-noum,
‘father of sleep’; a bloody sign of love’s martyrdom –
gul-e-lala – ‘flower of red’, in Persian and Urdu …
 
Remember? Beloved of Persephone, also found in the tomb –
like a watch, worn on the wrist – of Tutankhamun
and on coins issued by Herod …
No, this is not enough.
 
You need more? … Who crops up, fringing the banks of Lethe
after Troy; who bridges forgetfulness and memory,
life and death, relief and pain …
 
Who was loved by Coleridge who wished: that I could wrap up the view
from my house in a pill of opium and send it to you – to be
seen, swallowed, whole again …
No, this is not enough.
 
Who was the minded flower Shakespeare partly saw in all the drowsy
syrups of the world – a release from grief that calls for more
far-fetched relief, and, as morphine,
 
sent your sap through my mother’s veins, while she still could hear me,
while warmth remained in those hands that first held me,
first calmed my small, fevered brain …
No, this is not enough.
 
Whose pupil is a void dilating with light, its first and last entry –
a compound eye, in whichever form – who sees
the black dot of the beginning …
 
Who’s there on that date when all the 1s meet, looped in a wreath
year upon year, or poked through the eye
of a buttonhole. There. I’m done …
No, this is not enough.
 
Then: Mother Mother – last word of that bleeding, wrecked soldier,
as heard by the last Tommy, the last link to living memory –
spoken for now, like the countless millions
 
of mouthless dead. There in the underworld. The fallen, heavy
head. The deaths we live with. Enough said. Remember?
This is you. Wake up. You’re summoned.
 
No, this is not enough.
Zaffar Kunial

Zaffar Kunial

(Verenigd Koninkrijk, 1975)

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Poppy

Who crops up wherever ground is opened, broken …
No, this is not enough.
 
Who crops up where acidic ground is neutralised – in Belgium
blasted bones and rubble added their twist of lime 
turning the disturbed earth red …
No, this is not enough.
 
Then where seeds lay buried, dormant – those older than I am,
catching light, can stir from their long sleep in time,
like history, raising a hand, a head …
No, this is not enough.
 
Remember? Who’s there in the first script, on a Mesopotamian
tablet: Hul and Gil – ‘joy flower’ – a cuneiform
cocktail, our earliest remedy …
 
Who begot war in China, was named by Arabs Abou-el-noum,
‘father of sleep’; a bloody sign of love’s martyrdom –
gul-e-lala – ‘flower of red’, in Persian and Urdu …
 
Remember? Beloved of Persephone, also found in the tomb –
like a watch, worn on the wrist – of Tutankhamun
and on coins issued by Herod …
No, this is not enough.
 
You need more? … Who crops up, fringing the banks of Lethe
after Troy; who bridges forgetfulness and memory,
life and death, relief and pain …
 
Who was loved by Coleridge who wished: that I could wrap up the view
from my house in a pill of opium and send it to you – to be
seen, swallowed, whole again …
No, this is not enough.
 
Who was the minded flower Shakespeare partly saw in all the drowsy
syrups of the world – a release from grief that calls for more
far-fetched relief, and, as morphine,
 
sent your sap through my mother’s veins, while she still could hear me,
while warmth remained in those hands that first held me,
first calmed my small, fevered brain …
No, this is not enough.
 
Whose pupil is a void dilating with light, its first and last entry –
a compound eye, in whichever form – who sees
the black dot of the beginning …
 
Who’s there on that date when all the 1s meet, looped in a wreath
year upon year, or poked through the eye
of a buttonhole. There. I’m done …
No, this is not enough.
 
Then: Mother Mother – last word of that bleeding, wrecked soldier,
as heard by the last Tommy, the last link to living memory –
spoken for now, like the countless millions
 
of mouthless dead. There in the underworld. The fallen, heavy
head. The deaths we live with. Enough said. Remember?
This is you. Wake up. You’re summoned.
 
No, this is not enough.

Poppy

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère