Love in the Time of Terror
Your visage as the snow of Kashmir
Beckons my heart in exile.
And words as waves on Jhelum and its turns
Ripple on the burnt apple-orchards of soul.
And each of your steps now weave,
Gold-fire patterns on shawls
That so far have cloaked all my sins.
So loosen your maple-autumn hair
As I whirl as a dervish in trance
And chant a new sama to your eyes.
Between us an LOC of vows
And specters of Kalashnikov-laws.
But no brittle fatwa will cleanse your face
From shrines within mind’s hallowed caves.
And I Majboor will sing to your fame
Through valleys of saffron and pine.
Murmurs of Loss
Silence as ashes are heaped
All around ruins of your house,
Where ghazals from the soirées of past
Float as if snowflakes in last season’s air
Warbled with Dal’s sullen streams.
The last cars pass on Zero Bridge in dark
Where filigree of frost has arrayed our tears
In paisleys of forgotten lores.
Can reinforced bunkers now curb
The zikr of love in our souls?
But your loss has no address in time
Where heart’s mad letters might reach.
And I Majboor, with abdicated strings
Still sing of spring in my dreams.
The Voice of the Beloved
Away within tents full of agony and shame
I longed for your impassioned songs.
On nights full of insects in dust bowl of heat.
They hummed to my ears,
The rhythms of our home,
Glistening with snowflakes and stars.
But no blessed word to all of our gods
Can restore those unlimited greens.
For us are the images of temples now smashed
And captions of ever-growing hate.
Yet within corners of cramped little flats
In a city that breathes as an unscheduled halt
Winter still whispers your name.
And momently the air with apple-blossom grace
Spins a new yarn of love without fence
That rivals your Ranjha and Heer.
If only more timely you called…
If only I dared to respond!
And though I may never your Jhelum-eyes meet,
Memories of lips will trumpet your tales
And you Majboor, in Love’s storied realms
Will dazzle in hundred and eight names.
About the Poet
Abin Chakraborty teaches English Literature in a college in West Bengal, loves reading the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and hopes for more readers for his poems.