Nissim Ezekiel

(16 December 1924 - 9 January 2004 / Mumbai / India)

Minority Poem


In my room, I talk
to my invisible guests:
they do not argue, but wait

Till I am exhausted,
then they slip away
with inscrutable faces.

I lack the means to change
their amiable ways,
although I love their gods.

It's the language really
separates, whatever else
is shared. On the other hand,

Everyone understands
Mother Theresa; her guests
die visibly in her arms.

It's not the mythology
or the marriage customs
that you need to know,

It's the will to pass
through the eye of a needle
to self-forgetfulness.

The guests depart, dissatisfied;
they will never give up
their mantras, old or new.

And you, uneasy
orphan of their racial
memories, merely

Polish up your alien
techniques of observation,
while the city burns.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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