It feels like your voice is going to
walk in before you do. In seconds
I’ll have the whole of you back.
I will, in seconds, wont I? I’ve kept
your last letter for myself, you
wrote you’ll be back with us in
exactly a week, three times in
a few lines. I run my hand over
your words again and again,
know its time. Your
hair must have grown dry
living nowhere. Come soon,
saturated, doused I will
follow you around, peel away
the leathered layers of distance
till you shine.
Its been some time, but
remember, you used to
love to dip into who you were
with me. Now when we
sit down to eat you can tell me
all about where you’ve been.
Tell me people you’ve met
from other corners are
like you, kind and hopeful,
slowly building their lives
brighter. That war doesn’t
walk heavily on their minds.
That they pray for our own God’s ears
and He has listened every time.
He has to me.
I sit waiting
for you outside our home
swathed in blue. Laugh at
something you had once said;
leaf-like, my lips curl in folding
in the mole that feels so untouched.
And just above, the thin new moon
is on its way to being whole again.
Blank eyed, tight lipped. They speak
in thinly sliced words around me.
Your father sits me down, telling
me how they are not sure
but in either case what honour
you have brought. We do this
every day, all the while he rubs
away absent tears. All I can hear is
the screams of his dried eyeballs.
Your mother now talks about me
more than you, has given up the struggle
of speaking of you in the present,
with abandon talks of me in the past.
No hero has been born. Let me
send back their words, and ask
if they know the place where
it will all slowly go away:
your eyes, voice, hands, lips.
I’m going mad, it has begun to show.
It protrudes out of me taking your place.
Not even a part of you is here,
To make me stop running
across this winding stretch,
you pour out of me in tears till
silence falls between my lids.
They circle around me, tightly,
whispering, hoping I’ll grow quiet
at the name of endurance. But
your absence falls on me like
rain again and again, louder still.
Trembling, they pray only for my ears
so I forget for their sake.
Even in dreams their wizened looks
wash over me and say,
“smile mad woman!
After all he did live once and was
yours for some time. And wait.
Wait for when He calls for
you over seven skies, gold
doors will open for
the young martyr’s wife.”
Seasons have lost their orbit, or
found a new one. In this
slow wheel of days, rain
is born in winter now,
waterfalls of leaves make summer.
But it’s no alien country
one we made in songs and blood, still
we remain adrift, traversing
derelict time. But for me
pain, so much pain, is the
constant dust of my life.
You’re everywhere in this house,
halted at different ages.
If we always keep you in our eyes
they become so bright, no room
is left for what could have been in mind.
Today the moon is fat and so near
like the one your little love keeps
plopping in the middle of
his daily drawings. Your people,
this place, all of it has a new
softer rhythm, while in it
I just fall a little deeper
in love with death every day.
Remember when you
found me my life was
so small. For it you were
gold enough, alone.
~ Mavra Rana
Mavra Rana Tanveer’s life and work are based in Lahore. She studies and teaches literatures and cultural studies. Some of her creative and research work can be found in The Maya Tree Liberal Arts Review.