Poems| Sophia Naz

"Leisure" (Watercolor on handmade paper) - Sabina Yasmin Rahman

1. Sequestrum

That there was a serration, a separation between sinew and tendency. Zuljinnah, bolting from the fabric of that story. That the stray strand became a floater, a mutt barely above water in eye-seas without shorelines. Makli, where the tombs have been looted but the fishes are still sacred though vanished. The queue involuted to silence while in the corner of another see, Jesus burnt on toast smiles through the irony of smoke alarms, floral tiles and backlash.  So, like Penelope you sit down to the dissection of wings, the hew of long-lostness, a Loch-Ness of a color. This is Imago, this the ghost negative of a Sphinx moth and this HermAphrodite, hovering in between blue and violet,  winged lover and veiled night mare. On your bedside table Ramanujan is drowning in the oil spill of small print. What all has been stuffed inside. One day  you are cleaning out the Hazrat  Bal and here is  Eesa again! All irony vanished from his Kashmiri smile. Because you are a pattern seeking mammal adding a third mind-stripe to the yellow meridian snaking along the grey squirrel-back of the road. Hun-Dun, turtle brain, swimming in your own soup of stubborn phosphenes and marrows, swimming to Khul-na, the jilted mouth of the Sundarban. Somewhere there is still a beautiful forest, nocturnal, necrotic, erotic. This is where you take the bit between your teeth. Braid mongrel Buraqs into bone-spurs, ride them deep as they can go.

2. Bolt From the Blue

In narrow throated alleys, past the usual stations, slow trains of steam rising from the dyeing vats. The only tezgaam your feet, trundle-gallop on the treadle while you guide bibi Singer with a single graze on her gold and oiled obsidian. Doyen of jaundiced inch-tape curling light as smoke around the curves of my adolescence measuring remedies for a rebellious teenage neckline looking to bust out from the hooked himalayas of your patrician nose to the thin tributary, your outstretched tobacco-yellow witness finger to senseless scissoring.

Tailor-master you and I are cutting the same cloth from  opposite sides of the mirror, pencils tucked like  flowers behind our ears. Only, I have made a running stitch, a garland culled from the shorthand of cut-pieces to cup the air with, thread its fraying voile on my knees. I read the falling leaves as if they were passports to the country of loss, finger the indigo stamped exit wounds where gypsy moths hole up sweatshops of riddles and sleepless eyes join the dots of stars while unnameable others in rooms beyond reach, dangle naked bulbs, men exiled from their next of skin, pull out nails and hammer  “befitting replies”.

The only thing that separates us is a single syllable between  arraz, & arz - earth, which unlike this envelope, can never hide the scar. That remains like Sita, a furrow across the forehead caste in stone until death. Even back then there was a voice, simmering in the hems  & seams but now, there are no masters, ji. I choose all my lines, let language be lightning,  bolt from the blue, unlatched

3. Hubbub Dil

In case you are tempted to pity her poet’s heart, musclebound to serve until death and until then much maligned. Sliced splined, closed, indisposed. Tempted to pity the pitter-patter,  surreptitious pater mother, soundtrack behind the lines.  Attempting to pity the passing of passion to pine. Panther-panthi liebling, jaan, jive  & jubna  pigeonholed by libeling jibe. Case in point. If you are. Tempted to twist. Her heart, broken. In too many languages.

Papeeha, Piyush Gham-ka-pyala, angelic angina, cavernous corazon  cubbyhole amphitheater, her piano heart, a grave-length key she plays by the skin of her teeth. See her plumb, her calm turquoise tortoise jug you lurch. Down HermAphrodite! Now she slow-fans, punkah-pens your twinned beating whims.

Now Aparna, leafless heart, desist, but do not cease, soon she will be bereft of serendipity even in these waveless seas.  Pity the perfect monotone of the metronome, if  you will,  not the nocturnes of my circuitous  do-tal, ravenous skinny dip dip drip piping hot dram of dream, she loves me even though I am an incorrigible, inflammable dirigible. Look how she hearts! You may be tempted but you will never unseat Hubbub Dil, the Red Sovereign of Emoji-San!

4. Epitaph

Dear maker of mirrors sculpt me an epitaph from a grain of sand.  Weave its winding bandages into line lengths finer than gravel and coarser than silt into the arboreal cemetery of my tangling. Wrap me in its ribbons of seaweed-shroud as if I was a blind dolphin murdered in the silting mudbanks of the Indus. Even the river has become a beggar, fingers dammed and amputated at the cusp of kissing the mouth of her mahasagar.  Bury me in her remaining  rags of mangroves. There are no more  pages of night left under the neem tree. The monsoon has abandoned this city. Only the mournful signboards of Chinese dentists remain standing. Hoardings among hordes of trash the malnourished buffalos keep chewing and chewing. Death is made of plastic milk diluted with effluent.

Were you expecting me to write another lyric made of tinsel? To open and close chapters as if I were an orphan pinecone constantly weighed in the hexagram of changing light? No matter how many years pass the wind will die at the edge of this slum.  Her funeral will have no feet but will hang endlessly; laundry on the clotheslines that you never cross; her corpse will  smell like the rot of a thousand corrupt officials.  She will always  remain a migrant from the  furthest reaches of your mind. Weaving a story by day and unraveling it at night.  You will lull each other  to sleep pretending iridescence is kerosene, yet another bauble rubbed and rubbled in the graveyards of meaning. Dear maker of mirrors sculpt me an epitaph from a grain of sand. I am ready to write my obituary now. To consign its scissored words to the open wounds of the wind.

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