Alex Patriquin

Marginalia & found poetry. Short fiction and other projects. Musings  on startups. Photos from NYC and travels.


I was reading the Hindu epic The Ramayana.
It was spring in North Carolina:
the birds fabricating their nests

while I was dipping myself like a tea bag
over and over in my own despair.
What I like about The Ramayana

is how each character suspects
there is more than they know to the story.
The friend and the foe, the sister and brother,

they keep getting reborn again and again,
and they start to wise up but never quite do -
Sugriva thinks to himself, "To visit Vali's wife

will assure my destruction
- and yet I cannot prevent myself!"
Rama, dressing for battle,

is scared by his face in the mirror.
They are like us when, deeply immersed,
we sense the surface above us.

Or, breaking a spider web,
we wonder about the spider. In The Ramayana
the victim travels a long ways

to be slain. The wound recognizes 
the knife. Upon meeting her beloved,
a young girl swoons.

How still the air was that afternoon!
How tired I felt of not-knowing.
Once in a while I would put down the book

and stare into the yard
of the motel where I was staying.
Where a man dressed in gray

was pulling weeds in the garden;
where a woman in a bathing suit
over and over was diving

into a swimming pool of blue.

Tony Hoagland