Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Impression Of Being Alive - Mona Zote

All day we have watched the street shift
and careen, shed skin, refill, crest and yaw,
corrected our taste for oranges
packed by other hands from other places, bought
tokens of summer and the coming happiness —
we paused at the Korean romances: A Tale of a Prince,

Over Rainbow, Tree of Heaven. And the corporate type
who went mad for a girl.
No prince arrived with a piece of fax.
You said Plainly, it’s all money and for-
nication, just like everywhere else. We smiled
at the notion of moon bases and hummed a tune
from the movie we figured
we were still living in.

All day the sun kept tangling and stumbling
among bright open windows while the shopgirls cheered on,
and the pavement singers, and those women
fingering black laces in Foreign Lane
and we lived in and out of restaurants, smoking nonstop,

plate after plate of consommé
not thinking or speaking, our nerves
shattered by the urge to depart. All day
we have waited and waited
under heaven’s wide and lovely tree
for princes, advisors,
even some flannel postman to come and say
that the ship’s sailed, the bus
has left, all families look for us.
Have we said too much? Or not enough –

And here we are, the day gone
to its usual brilliant bedtime, the astronauts gone, the rain
now cadencing in our heads. The restaurant must close.
We have learned nothing. You wisely add: Really,
there was nothing to learn.

This poem was first published on in the February 2009 issue of the Indian edition.

Despite the somewhat intellectually arid landscape of her homeland which occasionally threatens to stifle her creativity, Mona Zote here provides insightful reading of a society and people caught, like most of the rest of the world, in the thrall of mammon. Small, sleepy, non-happening town or not, from the Korean romance DVD hawkers, the blind, dark-glassed pavement singers, the giddy, hired shopgirls behind glassed windows to the Foreign Lane smuggled ware sellers and tiny, crowded shops that serve chow swimming in gravy, and all closing at dusk, it’s all money and fornication, just like everywhere else.


  1. lovely. makes world weariness almost attractive. i especially love "the sun kept tangling and stumbling among bright open windows".

  2. Excellent! It would be a great postcolonial twist were Mona Zote to come and read to us in Wales.

  3. "..our nerves
    shattered by the urge to depart.."
    Lovely lines.. Big fan!!

  4. It's so alive,though expressing emptiness.Mona's poems often remind me of TS Esliot.

  5. Mona, SoS, I need to be in touch with u urgently. Where can I mail you??

  6. forgot to say, lovely poem, just loved it