For you, Shahid
On the lids and buds
a dance of love, a fleet of shadows
a sway, a lurch in the porch
hands two cubes of sound, eyes poppy-words
then silence of the highways, shacks, bullets
and death. Fractured. Split. Gone.
that is how a poem dies, Shahid
with you, with me, with us
these days nothing else matters, everything else is dead
death in the teacups, on rows of desire
on that tap on the collar bone, in layers of faces you put on
while you thumb the moon down into tin-sheets
and become a poet.
Death is only a colour, Shahid
blue is white now and red is black
the head grows stubs and then chrysanthemums
they thrust out in a bunch, the stems, the flakes, the smell, all
In profusion. Like death.
ghazals stand still in leaf-faces
the frangipani a scowl of a woman
love a mirrored-angle, upside-down
right is left, and you a reflection
yet every night you flow by my window
melt my bones and feet
in that rain in my head
Hairlines. Rays. Spray.
See, the rain becomes light
and we are one tongue, one verse again.
Tonight I am not in love with you, Shahid
this is all I want you to know
I see you dying
in chipped corners, old almirahs,
fossils, touch folded in old clothes,
neem-laced histories, you are everywhere
dying as young twirls
on pods of green
bent in arcs
over yesterday's mowed soil.
Wasted. Nubile. Glassy.
You take that forked path
in a paddy-leap, verbing air
till the words are tilled
into mounds, and you are a poem again.
One day I would outgrow you
the roots would rise their fangs
stick their tongues out
in iron-bricked moments
and you would be a tree.
That touch would be sound one day
that death would twitch
in a winnowed dusk, nobody knew
till your groaning grains tassel the air
in webs and planes.
The pale buildings turn
to the succulent mouths
biting the edge
of the lined sky
and it rains. It rains for you. It rains for me
It rains for us, Shahid.
When death sneaks into sleepy airports
the sky is pieced into lilac-halves, semi-circles
the wet gravel turns within
to suck the sky, and you.
Shops pickled by salt and light
split open a dry day.
in a watery alphabet.
As the rain looks within
retracts the rust
of your cells
the green bleeds red.
Death is only a colour. I told you.
Shahid, do I write you still?
(Brief note on the author: She teaches in N.E.H.U and loves life, words, the hills and the wind.)