[Issue 13 / 1 May 15]

(for Tahira)

What can I remind? That was a vacant February evening
I collected you from the silence around you, haggard
winds poked chinked windows grieving unbolted,

a friend strapped with wires was dying in a local hospital
his blood pressure was soaring metaphoric heights,
doctors exchanged pupils frozen like morgues,

sensing conclusion we discovered a new language,
though a day before your love was an unruffled page
I left messages, and conversation flagged epidemically;

shadows of pine trees appear commenting on earth
of course loneliness leaves mute seeds, cold corridors
grow stretchers, arguments abort on patients’ lips

portals bang in cold wards, sirens repeat mystically
even the sole chirp of a lonely sparrow caught in a turret
tells that pain is deposited in unseen coroners,

like an on-going project, your eyes show extra designs
the whole thing is simple, injected and oxygenated
you watched me washing my face, cleaned me

from doubts of dying, and hovered like a presence
but the dark brush of your ghostly attention touched
the edge of my half-finished gaze, framing me, outside

a lark gasps after hitting blindly, fear of losing sky
I suspect it will die, you insist on alternatives, thankfully
we did not go beyond some questions and margins,

inside a glassy cabin I saw a perforated canvas, that evening
crows under some compulsive oath pecked everything
I signed on a white sheet, someone was packing you.


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Rizwan Akhtar teaches at Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. His poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry NZ, Wasafiri, Postcolonial Text (Canada), decanto, Poesia (US), Exiled Ink, Pakistaniat : A Journal of Pakistani Studies (US), Solidarity International, Orbis, The Other Poetry, Planet; The Welsh International, Wolf, South Asian Review, Gutter: New Scottish writings, ScottishPen, tinfoildresses (US), and in Bloodaxe anthology Out of Bounds (2011).