My mother rock, a dolomotized limestone,
was violated by the windlass hoist.
In Sinhalese, the "mine" of man is illam
so what was mine becomes an iliad.
Gestation is backbreaking in Sri Lanka.
I'm given definition by the Tamils,
black, almost-naked men who slave for me.
I'm picked and loosened — carried off in baskets
precipitated from enfolding clay —
I'm agitated in the Mahaweli.
The wise old saw has teeth — the teeth of diamonds;
I'm put upon — a copper spinning wheel —
a Ceylon cut — and buffed by straps of leather —
a piece accomplished on the fiddle bow
transfiguring the piercing flame of Nero
I come to light — the golden Padparadschah —
the only sapphire having a first name.
In Sinhalese, it means the "lotus flower,"
the yellow lily with Homeric leaves
which gather up the sun out of the water.
Colombo is the jewel of the ocean,
but I am all that was before Colón.
Forget about the past — I have the fire
of spirit filtered through the verdant world —
verbena, cinnamon, and citronella.
And so I take the shape of my Sri Lanka —
sometimes I am a mango or a pear —
sometimes I am a teardrop — in nirvana —
you have to have a form to see through there —
and I am it — the body which is precious.
However, when two peoples of my island,
the Sinhalese and Indian Tamils,
use fire to destroy each other's colors
I change into the lotus jujubee
and want to eat myself and purge reflection
but turn instead to pages of the Sutra,
the Lotus of the Most Wonderful Law,
and emanate the teachings of the Buddha
that every human being rides the wind
upon the earth — and earth's the Padparadschah.
Related to the Marx Brothers through his mother, Richard Marx Weinraub was born in New York City in 1949; he was a Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico from 1987 through 2010. A book of his poetry entitled Wonder Bread Hill was published in 2002 by the University of Puerto Rico Press. His poetry has appeared in many journals including The Paris Review, Asheville Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Measure, The Evansville Review, Slate, and River Styx. A Spanish translation of Wonder Bread Hill was recently published by Terranova Press. A chapbook of his poetry entitled Heavenly Bodies was published in 2008 by Poets Wear Prada Press, and a poem from it was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize. In 2012, Poets Wear Prada will publish his full-length book of poetry entitled Lapidary.