The Enigma Machine

The machine that produced the enigma
……..became the enigma we wished
to dismantle. At last, we have done it:
……..The parts have been laid on the table
like so many hummingbird bones.
……..The gears with no teeth, the smoke
and the mirrors, the whatsits and rachets
……..uncoupled. Its knickknack of quartz,
its pendulum fashioned of horsehair,
……..the mousefooted prong at its heart—
this is all of it, all that emerged
……..from the cube with no faces, the sphere
with no here. We were warned by its sole
……..manufacturer that the enigma
would grow more opaque if we went
……..disassembling their little machine,
but that was a lie; we are pleased
……..to report our perplexity level
is stable. The problem we face now
……..is how to rejigger the wonder
we gutted, since nothing is fitting
……..with anything else. It would seem
that enigma is part of enigma-
……..creating machines, the component
we need the machine to create.
……..The lot of us here at the Royal
Society have to admit
……..we are quite at a loss. Could you help us?
A koan might do, or a limerick
……..by Lear, or a random assortment
of rhymes. For the gears, it appears,
……..are dissolving, like mints on a tongue
that has hinted the word that we hunt
……..is a world that is out of this word.

Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar is the author of five critically-acclaimed novels, four collections of award-winning poetry, a book for younger readers, and a translation of the Bhagavad-Gita with commentary. Three new books are forthcoming in 2023: a memoir (Twin A, with Slant Books), a book of essays (Black Avatar and Other Essays, with Acre Books), and a three-volume retelling of the Mahabharata (with Penguin India). The former first Poet Laureate of Ohio as well as a diagnostic and nuclear radiologist, he lives in Westerville, Ohio, with his wife and three children.
Amit Majmudar

Latest posts by Amit Majmudar (see all)

Author: Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar is the author of five critically-acclaimed novels, four collections of award-winning poetry, a book for younger readers, and a translation of the Bhagavad-Gita with commentary. Three new books are forthcoming in 2023: a memoir (Twin A, with Slant Books), a book of essays (Black Avatar and Other Essays, with Acre Books), and a three-volume retelling of the Mahabharata (with Penguin India). The former first Poet Laureate of Ohio as well as a diagnostic and nuclear radiologist, he lives in Westerville, Ohio, with his wife and three children.