Image by Ayesha Dharker Taylor

Living Space / One Breath

Imtiaz Dharker


Living Space / One Breath

Imtiaz Dharker


Poem introduction

I live much of the time in Bombay/Mumbai, which is a city that looks like its held together with sticks and sellotape and string. It's an image of fragility and that's found its way into these poems.

Living Space / One Breath

Living Space

There are just not enough
straight lines. That
is the problem.
Nothing is flat
or parallel. Beams
balance crookedly on supports
thrust off the vertical.
Nails clutch at open seams.
The whole structure leans dangerously
towards the miraculous.

Into this rough frame,
someone has squeezed
a living space

and even dared to place
these eggs in a wire basket,
fragile curves of white
hung out over the dark edge
of a slanted universe,
gathering the light
into themselves,
as if they were
the bright, thin walls of faith.

One Breath

All it would take
is one slammed door
to make the whole thing
fall. One bottle hurled
against a wall,
to start the hammering
on the heart
and crack
the body’s shell.
One sneeze, one cough,
one doubt.

All it would take
is one breath,
no more.


from Postcards from God (Bloodaxe, 1997), © Imtiaz Dharker 1997, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Imtiaz Dharker reading from her poems

1Speech Balloon

2Purdah

3The Haunted House

4The Child Sings

5Postcards from god I

6Postcards from god II

7Scaffolding

8Question 1 / Question 2

9Eggplant

10Living Space / One Breath

11Blessing

12This room

13Honour killing

14The right word

15Kinna sona

16A place called Battle

17How to cut a pomegranate

18Women bathing

19Tow-Path

20Spire

21Leaving fingerprints

22Contract

23Hand of Fatima, Hand of Miriam

24Eye

25Whoever you are

26Talisman / CCTV

27The temporary face

28Dabba's dialogue <i>or</i> Tiffin-box talks

29What she said / what she said later

30What the palm reader said then

31What they think she said

32They'll say, 'She must be from another country.'

Books & cds by Imtiaz Dharker