They decorated her way with hibiscus,
The blood-red petals aglow in blighting sun:
a fluorescent grandeur against a dark auburn silhouette.
They waited with a waiting
as far as their arms would stretch.
Their waiting had that luminous complacence.
Their batik turbans and lapis lazuli beads
had the eagerness of the beauty of Biblical parables.
Moments went by, but they were patient.
Their eyes radiated, then diluted
as if belladonna had had its effect.
Their breathing slowed down,
like those of Buddhist monks.
Their slim, erect and alert bodies
had the stillness of cheetah right before a hunt.
Rustling clouds, sombre and pining
moss hanging from abundant canopies—
the lapis lazuli ripples, cascading in giggling bursts,
The air was pregnant with expectation, to sum it all up.
It was the time for annual cleansing,
And, without her they knew it wouldn't happen.
But let me be clear that she was unwelcome
in their conversations, from their households,
and also from their riverbeds.
A forlorn distance sighed between them and her,
Like the distance between the lips and heart
Or between thoughts and actions
or between instinct and impulse!
And see there she is, the Diva!
The afternoon glow and the glow-worms
the hibiscus luminous and grande,
The crowd knew that the wait was over.
Then they let in distance to drift between them.
The concentric circle of the readiness of a cheetah
Or the long walk of bushman for hunt begins again.
Bipasha Haque is a diaspora writer with particular interest in life-the way it is. By profession Bipasha is a university teacher.
POEMS BY ARSHI MORTUZA
How can I word what I feel?
The ink on the tip of my quill
drip, drip, drips on a blank page
as I think, think, think
yet every mental lexicon fails
to express how I feel
See, some words come close
but are not quite accurate -
could I say I'm crazy? obsessive?
and the black ink still splatters
"drip, drip, drip"
on the page, which was once blank
And I look at my quill,
A lonely stranded feather
Plucked out from its entirety
It's no longer whole, and neither am I
But what is the word for that?
I think long and hard
As my quill bleeds
Giant droplets of ink
I take a look at the page
soaked in smudges of ink
and I smile -
for it reflects, exactly what I feel
The Whispers of the Rose
There's a secret
One I promised I'd take to my grave
Let it be buried with me
Let it end with me
Allow it to also decay with the dust
However I cannot promise
that upon my death, on that very soil
An intruder may not bloom
Sighing and lamenting - that very secret
White are her petals;
Curved inwards and layered
And on top of my grave,
Will she whisper into the wind
that very secret?
I still promise -
that it's a secret
which I'll take to my grave
but the leaves at dawn
the petals and thorns
may get a sense of it
Arshi Mortuza is a last semester student at ULAB.