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All poets aspire to write the perfect poem and of course none of us succeed. However, in eight short lines, Mimi Khalvati’s ‘The Middle Tone’ comes about as close as it’s possible to do in a poem that serves as an exaltation to pay attention to the life and people around you. The poem comes from Khalvati’s collection The Meanest Flower, published by Carcanet; her latest full collection is The Weather Wheel, and a Very Selected has recently been published by The Poetry Business.

The Middle Tone

Seldom do we Andalusians notice the ‘middle tone’.
An Andalusian either shouts at the stars or
kisses the red dust of the road. The middle tone
does not exist for him; he sleeps right through it.
————————————-Frederico Garcia Lorca

Just so I spend my life asleep.
Stars, if there are, might shine above
and dust, dust that I’ve always loved’s
now dirt at most I lightly sweep.

But cantaor, I too exist.
My middle tone of dung and nectar,
flower and carrion, is a star
that fell, dust I too once kissed.

 

Used with kind permission of Mimi Khalvati and Carcanet Press.