Poems: Metal of the night and Green lights of the Dawn

Ashfaq Saraf

Metal of the night

Metal of the night grows heavy
with rust
when evenings bathe in
cold salt of stupor and wishes —
those never tried, though, for their hazard.
Wearing garments
soaked in last decade’s rainfall
(some delayed by months and more
some early by days flooding paddy and chocked drains)
exposing its fat limbs and
bruised knees against rough walls
of shop corners
evening gnaws at us with teeth made of summer breeze.

The lazy birds perched on tree branches
are exposed
to the faint light of street lamps.

Residual memory of dawn
and afternoon
retreats hungry and exhausted
and new robes of fatigue take over,
a compelling case of teeth
thoughts and fears alike—
there stands a woman clad in crystals
who latter is stripped bare
and held by the edges of a bridge
against the sense of solitude
buried in our hearts—
that we give up meals for
a night of soft sleep.

Food is to be left in frozen refrigerators
and bit upon
as the dreams linger on!


Green light of Dawn!

In the imitation of a hungry gut
seeking remedy
earth swallows your shadows
and it dawns upon me you’re not to
be found,
not even here—where rain water flows
down the territorial sanctity
of your nape, where
sunshine emerges from behind
the topaz of your forehead—not even here.
On tablets smeared with musk,
smell of which has led your detractors
into a siege,
people wrote your name in
incredulous letters, each letter like a
stranded horseman on his way to
the neighbor’s funeral.

O this green light of dawn!
how it sows corn
in your skin, and we
the hungry and worn from suburbs wait
for bonfire and salt—the mystery
of your eyes rows boats
through hyacinth waters and we fail to
anchor anywhere near our homes,
In the fruit laden orchard of our militant
childhood you preside
over autumns selling apples
to the hungry, pears to distraught!

Geraniums grow in the backyard
of our houses and flourish over
your body, your hands
become roots holding minerals and water,
your eyes branches widening
into neighbor’s premises—
the smell of your hair draws pigeons to
the dark pockets of our attic—
in you spread veins throbbing
with the blood of spring.
In the valley of Kashmir,
so they say,
our countrymen have taken to marijuana
and kids smoke under blazing veins
of summer breeze—
their lungs store grief and soot, dust
has settled into the gaps
between their teeth
like earthworms settling behind
a wet stone, O
you: the supple nipple of our ashen breast
fly back with the autumn light,
walk with the thinning out Chinar shadows,
they’ll give up smoke and haze
and follow you
like the first traces of housewives’ feet
(out to queue up at local baker’s)
on frosted pathways.

Even when the cinnamon touch
of your tongue
wets eyelids far removed
from the curtains of our window, we
haven’t let the swirl
of your breathing disappear from our rooms—
we are a poor man’s belief,
the grief embedded in brief summers—
when you eat by the fire
in our hearth, we’ll remind you of the
strange women
toiling under summer heat,
women exiled from the shaded grooves
of their faraway homes,
women selling corn and onions, their
faces beguiled over sweat-dripping
bellies of fat summers,
their hunger bigger than
the heat from charcoal grills, they sell
calling after passing by men—that is, if men
stare in their directions—
inviting them to the taste of their stale hands.

Ashfaq is a poet and fiction writer based in New Delhi. His first collection is “The Harkening.”

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