Friday, November 30, 2007


I received a copy of the page proofs today. This Splintered Face has almost materialized. As l leaf through these poems, I think of my father, Guy Amirthanayagam, who gave me a great send-off as a poet, reading all of my first poems, encouraging them along with comments and suggestions during a wet Honolulu summer where poetry filled my lonely heart-ache, gave my life some purpose.

I continue, of course, to engage in the inevitable tussle between woman of flesh and blood, and the muse, this sweet absence, saree pulled through the ring in my friend Shahid’s “The Dacca Gauzes.”

My father wrote at times about woman and solitude. Here is


Exactitude is vital:
The pilot sounds precise enough
As he announces loud and clear
We are thirty thousand
Five hundred and forty feet
Above the ground.

The climb over affronted clouds
In a mood to mass together,
Shutting out of sight
Inhospitable desert mountains
Seems a true image, the only one
Of man’s ascent, till
A vision of a kind-looking
Hostess, like the serene, low
Lying cloud just appearing
In the right corner of my window
Floats past me with the question,
Do you need a drink?

Startled, I mumble under my breath;
My sub-vocal speech she does not hear
My ‘yes’ is neither firm nor clear.
She passes me by, as though
We were in a park on earth
Or a supermarket.
I do not need a drink.
But I could be comforted.

And the price of comfort is to have
Assertiveness to match my need:
Strong certitude in every deed.
Exactitude is vital.

--- Guy Amirthanayagam, New Verse, Paperback Edition, Ceylon Printers, 1990