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The Cinnamon Peeler Analysis

Author: poem of Michael Ondaatje Type: poem Views: 4

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If I were a cinnamon peeler

I would ride your bed

And leave the yellow bark dust

On your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek

You could never walk through markets

without the profession of my fingers

floating over you. The blind would

stumble certain of whom they approached

though you might bathe

under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh

at this smooth pasture

neighbour to you hair

or the crease

that cuts your back. This ankle.

You will be known among strangers

as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you

before marriage

never touch you

--your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.

I buried my hands

in saffron, disguised them

over smoking tar,

helped the honey gatherers...

When we swam once

I touched you in the water

and our bodies remained free,

you could hold me and be blind of smell.

you climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women

the grass cutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.

And you searched your arms

for the missing perfume

and knew

what good is it

to be the lime burner's daughter

left with no trace

as if not spoken to in the act of love

as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar.

You touched

your belly to my hands

in the dry air and said

I am the cinnamon

Peeler's wife. Smell me.


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