Amit Majmudar

Joint Effort
February 10, 2014 Majmudar Amit

Joint Effort


Let the hunchback lie hump down

upon the Bactrian camel. On that snug foundation

let the leper stand tiptoe, balancing

the cripple’s cane on his nose, while the cripple,

upside down, balances atop the cane, index finger

on the hook handle. Let the cripple’s legs scissor

and interlock with the gymnast’s, whose chalked hands

should support the flatfooted orangutan.

Let the orangutan be trained beforehand

to hold a dead veteran overhead, the body draped.

On the veteran’s shoulders and hips let the retiree

align the rubber-nubbin feet of his walker

and, standing tall, wear a hardhat with a flagpole

coming off it, atop that flagpole a circus elephant,

one leathery foot planted, the body rocking back.

On the top curve of that elephant’s S-shaped trunk

let the seal lie arching its back, on its whiskery snout

a beach ball that looks like a globe, spinning.

Let the five-star general clap his hands on that beach ball,

as you know he wants to. Let him do a handstand on it.

Feet on his feet, let the poet turning clockwise

support a fruit bat on his head, and let that fruit bat

in turn support a larger fruit bat, between whose ears

should rest the toe of the ballerina’s vertical left shoe.

Let the ballerina hold the stepladder steady.

At this point, the tower will have crossed the cloud cover;

the shelf should be in view, and what is kept upon the shelf.

Now let the child skip school. Let the child

climb the tower to its tippy top and place her hand

inside the jar and bring the cookies to earth.

Amit Majmudar‘s newly published collection of essays is Black Avatar and Other Essays (Acre Books, 2023). Twin A: A Memoir (Slant Books, 2023) is his forthcoming memoir, in prose and verse, about his son’s congenital heart disease. The first volume of his Mahabharata trilogy, The Book of Vows, is forthcoming in India (Penguin India, 2023), as well as a book for younger readers, The Later Adventures of Hanuman (Puffin India, 2023).