Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Ilma Qureshi


twilight

when you are by my side
talk to me of honey bees,
of wild nettles,
of chaotic seas,
do not say-
that the economy is bad
or that the two countries will soon be at war
let there be poems in life

for who shall capture
the silent undoing of the heart;
the slow losing of a friend
sunlight frolicking with dust
and all things that madden your heart?

as life cleaves its knuckles
into the marshed sand
know that your spirit
must sail
to skies
that the eye cannot see

let there be poems in life
steal moments
between traffic lights
between meetings
to escape to a space
where there is nothing
but silence

and your heart, with its glorious fears
and its grandest pains
lies still, quiet
dead like a rock




almost

the wind is insistent tonight-gently prodding all that it touches
the muezzin gave out the azan, leaving the amber sky tinged with urgency
strange barakah
the sky springs open-just almost-and changes its mind
there will be no rain tonight
our hearts, just like the sky, contemplate the amount of pain they can bear
stitch-shut.
motorcycles whirr, singing a song to themselves
everything that is in a haste, will eventually quieten.

the sky will split open
the earth will embrace
gold leaves, thick moss, seething sunlight

it will accept drizzle, instead of dew
and the sky- sun-kissed, liquid with pain
will cease not to be a metaphor
for all longings, for all seasons
of the wild, pulsating, frantic heart




a path

you remind me of things
i have battled hard to forget
like the way the sun pierces naked skin
and finds a way to the heart
how it gushes through veins
and tremors the soul
how it sets fire to all
that the fingertips touch

through ablaze worlds,
we tread
to find a moon
bathing in a river
like a gopi
with snake-like tresses
and blood-red lips.

we stop, and we stare.
love finds us,
in both beauty
and terror.



Ilma Qureshi: I am currently pursuing my doctorate in Persian poetics and Sufism at the University of Virginia. Hailing from Multan, a small town nestled in the south of Pakistan, I grew up with a host of languages and write in Persian, Urdu, and English. My work has been previously published in literary journals such as Tafheem, Tareekh-e-Adab-e-Urdu, Active Muse, The Ice Colony, and Audio Times.




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