what fire is this

– Jameela Nishat. What fire is this

translated by Syed Sirajuddin



You have broken the path of the dragonfly
who visits my patio at the hour when
the sky has nearly forgotten the sun.
You have come to tell me
how happy we are, but I know
what you would and would not do
to make us happy. For example this necklace
before me: white eyes,
a noose of guileless tears.

– Rita Dove. Pearls


The gold censer turned to fire, his body to aloe-wood.
Love’s nostrils grew fragrant by those fumes.
To those ashes by the heart’s fire,
Did those gathered set fire again.
Desolated by love, he grew peopled by flames.
Candle-like, by burning he became all bodied in light.
By that fire that love kindled by its breath,
Would a candle or moth have been charred.
His body, by that fire, burned like his soul.
To the water of the Ganges did they bear his bones.
The rakishly worn crown now turned a bubble.
In place of the Homā the fish finished the bones.
It was as if the king had turned a victorious sword,
That he got caught up in all that fire and water.

– Sa’d-Allah Masih Panipati. An account of Raja Jasrath’s death in separation from Ram

translated by Prashant Keshavmurthy



  • Persian in India’s Literary Ecology: The Case of a 17th Century Persian Ramayana [youtu.be/44m45s]


Silence of everyone I ever loved
This cloudy Friday evening
Spring but still cold
A smattering of new buds
Who’s that
Swaddled in
The uneasy atmosphere
In silence
No chatter or pleasant surprise
The lusty rush of a weekend
With the beloved
Who’s that
Sprouting now out of
The cottony silence
With silky whips
Still hanging from their little chops
Who is it straining
To pop out
Of the hardwood
Rings of time
Into the cool air
Like there’s another cool world
On the other side of this one
Worth pushing
Through to or maybe
We’re already there
Is that
Why we shake

– Ana Božičević. Who’s That



These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.

– Michael Rosen. These are the Hands