Poetry December 2011

Lineage

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My father before me, the watchmaker of Herat, used his monocle and gear-tweezers
     to pick a splinter from my ring finger.
Egypt (not Qutb’s, Tut’s) believed this finger bore a vein that drained directly to the heart.
My father’s father before him had irises of a Bactrian hazel, dating back to the third century B.C.
They are the eyes of an ancient rapist who traveled here with Alexander’s army; but they are the
     only keepsakes I have.
His father before him was a mountain man, and came down to Herat only once, to trade a horse.
Herat took his horse at knifepoint and gave him the cough that killed him and two of his brothers.
His father before him shot two British soldiers with a carbine that liked to buck left.
The regiment was all red-coated Highlanders, who brought their bagpipes to the Hindu Kush.
His third shot sparked strange in the breech and peppered his face.
His father before him, a decorator of Korans, bandaged his only apprentice’s eyes.
My ring finger is an inkwell full of royal blood; my language, fired tiles and tessellation.
Today I stand outside an electrified fence and watch a gunship’s rotors spin down.
My generations stand behind me in a row, and the draft sets us spinning in place:
Sufi pinwheels, seizing any wind as an excuse for ecstasy.

Amit Majmudar is the author of the forthcoming novel The Abundance, as well as the novel Partitions (2011) and the collections Heaven and Earth (2011) and 0°, 0° (2009). He works as a diagnostic nuclear radiologist in Dublin, Ohio.
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