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 a novelist, poet, translator, essayist, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist. Majmudar’s latest books are Godsong: A Verse Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, with Commentary (Knopf, 2018) and the mythological novel Sitayana (Penguin Random House India, 2019). A historical novel, Soar, was released this year in India from Penguin Random House, and a poetry collection in the United States, What He Did in Solitary, is forthcoming from Knopf in August 2020. His novel Partitions (Holt/Metropolitan, 2011) was shortlisted for the HWA/Goldsboro Crown Prize for Historical Fiction and was named Best Debut Fiction of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and his second novel, The Abundance (Holt/Metropolitan, 2013), was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio Program. His poetry has appeared in The Best of the Best American Poetry 25th Anniversary Edition, numerous Best American Poetry anthologies, as well as the Norton Introduction to Literature, The New Yorker, and Poetry; his prose has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2017, The Best American Essays 2018, and the New York Times. His first poetry collection, 0',0', was shortlisted for the Norma Farber Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his second collection, Heaven and Earth, won the Donald Justice Award. He also edited an anthology of political poetry, Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now(Knopf, 2017). Winner of the Anne Halley Prize and the Pushcart Prize, he served as Ohio's first Poet Laureate. He practices diagnostic and nuclear radiology full-time in Westerville, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and daughter.
Amit Majmudar

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Author: Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, translator, essayist, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist. Majmudar’s latest books are Godsong: A Verse Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, with Commentary (Knopf, 2018) and the mythological novel Sitayana (Penguin Random House India, 2019). A historical novel, Soar, was released this year in India from Penguin Random House, and a poetry collection in the United States, What He Did in Solitary, is forthcoming from Knopf in August 2020. His novel Partitions (Holt/Metropolitan, 2011) was shortlisted for the HWA/Goldsboro Crown Prize for Historical Fiction and was named Best Debut Fiction of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and his second novel, The Abundance (Holt/Metropolitan, 2013), was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio Program. His poetry has appeared in The Best of the Best American Poetry 25th Anniversary Edition, numerous Best American Poetry anthologies, as well as the Norton Introduction to Literature, The New Yorker, and Poetry; his prose has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2017, The Best American Essays 2018, and the New York Times. His first poetry collection, 0',0', was shortlisted for the Norma Farber Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his second collection, Heaven and Earth, won the Donald Justice Award. He also edited an anthology of political poetry, Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now(Knopf, 2017). Winner of the Anne Halley Prize and the Pushcart Prize, he served as Ohio's first Poet Laureate. He practices diagnostic and nuclear radiology full-time in Westerville, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and daughter.