Good evening fellow scribblers and welcome to tonight’s MTB session.

Contrapuntal music is composed of multiple melodies that are relatively independent that are sounded together. In the poetic world, contrapuntal poems are poems that intertwine two (or more) separate poems into a single composition.

Tonight we are going contrapuntal.

Here is a beautiful example with explanatory notes from the poet.

Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito by Tarfia Faizullah
at Apollo Hospital, Dhaka

Let me break
                            free of these lace-frail
                            lilac fingers disrobing
the black sky
                            from the windows of this
                            room, I sit helpless, waiting,
                            because you drew from me
                            the coil of red twine: loneliness—
spooled inside—
                            once, I wanted to say one
                            true thing, as in, I want more
in this life,
                            or, the sky is hurt, a blue vessel
                            we pass through each other,
like weary
                            sweepers haunting through glass
                            doors, arcing across gray floors
faint trails
                            of dust we leave behind—he
                            touches my hand, waits for me
to clutch back
                            while mosquitoes rise like smoke
                            from this cold marble floor,
from altars,
                            seeking the blood still humming
                            in our unsaved bodies—he sighs,
I make a fist,
                            I kill this one leaving raw
                            kisses raised on our bare necks—
because I woke
                            alone in the myth of one life, I will
                            myself into another—how strange,
to witness
                            nameless, the tangled shape
                            our blood makes across us,
my open palm.

Tarfia Faizullah on “Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito”

This poem is a contrapuntal, which means it can be read three different ways. Musically speaking, a contrapuntal imposes two or more distinct melodies upon each other simultaneously, and in doing so, creates a brand new harmonic relationship.

The year I spent in Bangladesh, where I wrote this poem, was the year I began to see the shape of myself emerge. I was displaced in a country that was too familiar to be foreign. I was researching the 1971 Liberation War in which Bangladesh won its independence and I was interviewing its female survivors. I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital late at night, waiting to hear news about a sick uncle. I was wishing I had someone nearby who I didn’t have to explain myself to. I was longing for my sister, who was a child when she passed away over twenty years ago.

In terms of poetry composition, the contrapuntal relies on both poems working as distinct entities as well as in conversation with each other. The third poem that emerges is one that results from the movement back and forth between the two poems.

It took a few drafts to realize that this poem was a contrapuntal, that there were multiple tensions trying to resolve. I wanted to write a poem that could contain the individual emotions I felt that night. “Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito” was written in the intersection of many borders: in a waiting room poised in the present moment, waiting to dive back into the history of the past so that I could write what I learned into the future.

You can take two of your own poems and combine them to create a third or write two new poems to create a contrapuntal.

As always post the poem to your blog and link up with us here.

Please visit your fellow poets and comment on their work. Have fun.