Poem by Srikanth Reddy
I am about to recite a psalm that I know. Before I begin, my expectation extends over the entire psalm. Once I have begun, the words I have said remove themselves from expectation & are now held in memory while those yet to be said remain in expectation. The present is a word for only those words which I am now saying. As I speak, the present moves across the length of the psalm, which I mark for you with my finger in the psalm book. The psalm is written in India ink, the oldest ink known to mankind. Every ink is made up of a color & a vehicle. With India ink, the color is carbon & the vehicle, water. Life on our planet is also composed of carbon & water. In the history of ink, which is rapidly coming to an end, the ancient world turns from the use of India ink to adopt sepia. Sepia is made from the octopus, the squid & the cuttlefish. One curious property of the cuttlefish is that, once dead, its body begins to glow. This mild phosphorescence reaches its greatest intensity a few days after death, then ebbs away as the body decays. You can read by this light.
"from 'Facts for Visitors,'
(University of California Press 2004).
Srikanth Reddy is the author of two books of poetry--Facts for Visitors and Voyager (both published by the University of California Press)—as well as a scholarly study, Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2012). He has written on contemporary poetry for various publications, including The New York Times, The New Republic, and Lana Turner. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Creative Capital Foundation, and the Asian American Writers' Workshop, Reddy is an Associate Professor in English at the University of Chicago.