I'm reading an advance copy of THE VEILED SUITE: The Collected Poems of Agha Shahid Ali, which Norton will publish soon. It's a wonderful book, and it brings Shahid back with such directness and vivacity. It seems so long since his death in 2001, and also as if he's just right around the corner, and will suddenly appear, talking and laughing and charming everyone in sight. Among the many ghazals in the book -- he was known, of course, for bringing a deeper understanding of the form into contemporary American poetry -- there's one I particularly like, in which each couplet ends with the word "rain." I'm placing this little passage here tonight because I've just left New York, for the next three months, and sitting here at the kitchen table of a rented house in Palo Alto, Shahid's evocation of a particular kind of New York solitude seems especially poignant:
New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me --
to make this claim Memory's brought even the rain.