Vikram Balasubramanian

California
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Face

“Love of my life, you / Are lost and I am / Young again.” – Louise Gluck, “Vespers: Parousia”

Love of my life, you
Are lost and the sky is
Gone again.

How beautiful my garden is
full of things that belong to me,
and how dead the earth.

Songbirds no longer roost here and
the air is quiet with the hum of smog
The fires cleanse Malibu and not a drop of rain.
The floods are no longer meant to save us.
Outside my garden, who will save the face of the world?

They say the face of Helen launched one thousands ships
each filled with one thousand soldiers
each entrusted with one thousand sins,
each an act of violence.

All fifty of Priam’s kin, dead,
slaughtered by a face so beautiful.
The last daughter goes willingly
into the funeral pyre of a ghost

Polyxena, o innocent, her beauty killed you, one thousand times.

Inside my garden you would never know
On this planet flowers no longer bloom
The chrysanthemum wilts and the air
is filled with the scent of the last poppies.

O lover of mine, when I saw your face
the earth was saved.
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