For a Child of Kashmir and other poem

Saima Afreen

 

Poem No. 1 | For a Child of Kashmir

 

Child,

Look

A little paper-boat sways

On violet waters

Of butchered lullabies

On which your mother once put

A tiny tear of your dreams

And a firefly from her face.

 

Bullets

pierce

mouth of the molten moon

Your small universe

Weeps in your tiny palms

Stained with white blood.

 

Child,

Do not long for the moon.

Tonight

It will be cremated

By wolves in khaki:

Guards of ‘Peace’!

 

The thud

Of their boots

Trample upon the wails

Reverberating from the red carpet

Of fresh blood

On streets.

 

The night preening

Its blue plumes

Drips as broken sounds

From the rows of poplars –

Silent spectres

Of Doom…

 

Child,

Do not cry.

Your beheaded doll

Will find a grave

Amid dark pits

Of deadly shrieks

Left unburied.

 

Child,

Hold

Tightly the velvety wings

Of a crushed butterfly

Even if you see

Blades

Of green grass growing

Out of smashed skulls!

 

Hear,

The ghosts

Of smoke

Have just sung songs

Of Spring

Blooming

As bleeding hearts

From burnt roses of Nishat Bagh.

 

Child,

You will not get

A bouquet

Of colours.

In this land anymore,

Not even in the fractured fingers

Of your crayons.

 

Behold

Child,

Grey. Black. Red

Are the only colours left in Kashmir.

Forget the orange colour

Of your candy.

 

The brutal blue night

Will soon remove all hues

Except red.

 

The Devil in the chopper

Tries to erase

Verses written

On the white wings of the wind

With his fingers

Smeared with ashes of charred bodies

That burnt upon charcoal

Of myriads of mornings.

 

 

Fire.

The serpentine tongue

Swallows

Glittering pictures

Of fairies and dwarfs

In your story books.

Tiny sparks hiss

On needles of rain.

 

Child,

Go

Inferno

Engulfs

The morning star

That trembles

On the liquid glass

Of your iris.

 

Cover your pink ears.

Fables. Rhymes. Claps

Are drops of molten lead.

Stories of blood and gore

Flutter as bats

Licking the flowers

On the wallpaper

Of your skin.

Strange hands

Throw the wounded scarlet sun

In the black lake

Where Laughter was slaughtered.

Even,

The dead eye of prophecy is lost

In distorted maps.

 

See,

Child,

Forest scents

Try to mend the shawl of the torn sky

That your mother covered herself with.

Dirty scraps of blue cloth

Fall on catacombs

Beneath chinar trees.

 

Child,

Tell me,

Will the world ever come to know

What it means

To breathe

Inside a dead womb?

This poem won First Prize in a poetry Contest of Museindia – an online literary journal

 

Poem No. 2 | Tablecloth

 

History never gets old,

it is a jeweller that continues to polish Time,

breaks light into stained glass

before uncurling sodden alphabets

from thin fog. It searches for faces claimed by darkness

lights a few couplets

and watches

thin wrinkled fingers stitching

fresh daisies. Art of darning stories.

 

The mesh of crochet

and the mesh within,

too old to darn the torn mist collapsing above

the border, the broken china of childhood,

the fables over teacakes, rim of frail cups;

she wakes up the sleeping flowers

asks them their names…

they open their hearts

show Dunyazad

singing in velvet silence

busy with her needles;

 

this evening

the hem of the table cloth smells of stories

that she lived in, we all live in, stories that we all are

rest, including

this life

is fiction.

 

Saima Afreen is an award winning poet who moonlights as a journalist with Indian Express as well. Her poems have been published in several national and international journals like Indian Literature, Muse India, and Notre Dame. She has been awarded a writing fellowship in Finland. 

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