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Words of Fire







— East Berlin

There is a pen scratching across a wall.
It is a white wall inside a white church
inches away from faces, crowds, the tumult
of history, but right now, there is only a pen,
bumping along a wall, no meaning
except the rise and fall of this nib,
a needle from an outdated gramophone,
playing each ridge and trough,
a landscape of chalk and moon.

Pireeni Sundaralingam is co-editor of Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 2010), which won both the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles National Book Award and the 2011 Northern California Book Award.  Her own poetry has been published in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner and The Progressive, anthologies by W.W. Norton, Prentice Hall and Macmillan, and has been translated into several languages. Sundaralingam was born in Sri Lanka and currently lives in California.

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