Skip to content

In Memory

A poem by Karen Gabriel

Daniya Rahman, From ‘Silhouetted Portraits’, 2021

Some years ago I met a man,
An ordinary kind of man,
And yet the kind you look at twice.

I looked and looked, and all at once,
He wasn’t what I thought he was,
He had an edge that cut like ice.

An edge that grew before I knew
Into a hook that seized him through
And through where none had been before.

Not even he, I have to say,
Although I think, (now night and day),
There’s little that he let go its way.

Yet I do not think he chose the road,
I do not think he knew at all
What lay ahead was just a wall.

So he wandered in and then
He blindly stumbled round and round
The sharpened point of his own edge.

And he was young, so very strong,
And though I think I knew all along
That this was going to happen,

What happened, happened, oh so slow,
And perhaps you’d like to know,
I saw him melt to a silhouette.

Yet even then there was that edge
Now split and doubled at the head
And warped a bit (as if too used)

By someone who could step inside?
By someone who could not abide
A talent and a lust for life?

Who cored the soul, melted the core,
And drained the pool
Down some unknown and rusty hole
That I have still to find
To check for what’s been left behind
Of him who finally bent to match the hook?

Perhaps we all will find the way
Back to what’s been left to stay
Behind, beside those running ducts,
Which, empty now and then, get stuck
With strange and stifled hums
That make the steps you walk above
Precarious and slow,
Like blind men’s in a changing maze
That opens out somewhere below
Into that wretched wired cage
That simply will not let you

your fall.

Karen Gabriel is an associate professor at the department of English, St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality, nation and representation.