adds its fire to blood;
the skin holds kilns
of centuries, flickering, melting
lifting rusted letter-boxes
by their roots, the frost within
the struggle of light.
The wooden houses drink the sky
above. The stars have always outnumbered the dead.
They grow large button-like,
stitching poems, prophets once discarded.
Below Scandinavia glitters
I dip my hand, shake the Baltic Sea, pluck a few conifers
and let them marry jasmines
growing around Saima Harmaja’s navel
which is still the point other constellations drifted
the spot Silk Route tried to hold
the tale locked in Kufic letters,
the smile of a dead woman in the water grave,
the silk unwrapping Kalevala,
the silence of Karbala.
Thousands of angels tap
on my flight window.
The next morning they said it snowed feathers
And each red mushroom lent its fire
to tiny poems opening their eyes with the grass.
in a marriage of glass and fire.
Saima Harmaja – A brilliant Finnish poet who died very young
Kufic – Oldest Arab calligraphic form
Kalevala – Finnish national epic
Karbala – A city in Central Iraq known for the famous battle of Karbala
There’s No Lamp in the World Tonight
Darkness is a refugee
in our shadows
it’s a little child that wakes up
in the middle of the night –
remembering the rose chintz of my lamp
and a milk jug my grandfather brought home
from Germany during the World War
underneath the rose-gold hue was written Rosenthal
which I till now wrongly read as Rosencrantz
a name for treachery planted inside us
when the cities would be lumps of coal
under silent sirens
women noiseless like leaves
their sewing a story folded for tomorrow.
My article bled today
with a bloodshot eye
holding a pellet-stricken map
in its iris.
There’s power-cut in my body
my poet-skin refuses to see the calligraphy
that soft shadows of net curtains offer
or how the teak cupboard bends into a smooth curve.
Outside the red moon
is broken into shards
a sliver of its hot glass falls
inside my inkpot.
Everything turns into vapour
this country, he, me, you
and darkness, too
crying in its chains
for the heads of dead soldiers
murdered babies or mutilated women
now all disappeared in a blind universe
where stars are torch lights
blown out on broken cheeks.
The darkness is ink inside a jug of milk
darkness is the well today
everybody is drowned in
and then silence,
the buds forget to bloom
your breath once fire is cold
the wicks your eyes planted in the sky
etherized their lights blink
their tips lit up with blood;
I pluck one wick
and set the carcass
of the moon
Let there be light!
Saima Afreen is an award winning poet, who also moonlights as a journalist with The New Indian Express. She has been part of different literary festivals and platforms such as GALF, TEDx VNR-VJIET, Prakriti Poetry Festival, Sahitya Akademi Poets’ Meet, Helsinki Poetry Jam among others. She was awarded Villa Sarkia Writers Residency, for autumn 2017 in Finland, where she finished working on the manuscript of her first poetry book titled ‘Sin of Semantics and Other Poems’.