Existing is plagiarism – E.M. Cioran

There is no end to unknowing.
We read papers. Wrap fish in yesterday’s news,
spread squares on the floor so puppy can pee
on Putin’s face. Even the mountains cannot say
what killed the Sumerians all those years ago.
And as such, you should know that blindness
is historical, that nothing in this poem will make
you richer, thinner, or smarter. Myself –
I couldn’t say how a light bulb worked,
But if we threw you headfirst into the past,
what would you say about the secrets
of chlorophyll? How would you expound
on the aggression of sea anemones,
the Battle of Plassey, Boko Haram?
Language is a peculiar destiny.

Once, at the desert’s edge,
a circle of pilgrims spoke of wonder –
their lives dark with mud and hoes.
They didn’t know you could make perfume
from rain, that human blood was more fattening
than beer. But their fears were ripe and lucent,
their clods of children plentiful, and God
walked among them, knitting sweaters
for injured chevaliers. Will you tell them
how everything that’s been said is worth
saying again? How the body is helicoidal,
spiriting on and on

How it is only ever through the will of nose,
bronchiole, trachea, lung,
that breath outpaces
any sadness
of tongue

Artwork by Manu Ambady

Published with permission from the forthcoming girls are coming out of the woods, Tishani Doshi.

This selection is curated by Rohini Kejriwal. She also curates The Alipore Post, a daily newsletter stemming from a love of​ art, poetry, music, and all things beautiful.