Five Poems

by Parveen Shakir / translated by Alamgir Hashmi

A Message

Itís the same weather.
The rainís laughter
rings in the trees, echoes.
Their green branches
wear golden flowers
and smile thinking of someone.
The breeze is a scarf, again the light-pink.
The path to the garden that knows us
is looking for us.
The moment of moon-rise
is waiting for us.

Pink Flowers

Pink flowers blossomed
in the season I met you.

With your attentions they are opening again,
though these wounds had healed already.

How long could the columns support
these houses shaken to their foundations?

That old strangeness came back,
as if our meetings had been done.

The body was still hotfoot with its infatuations,
the feet bruised on the way.

Hot Line

How he used to complain to me!
So many people
come between us
we cannot talk.
In the seasonís first rain,
first snow,
full-moon nights,
eveningís mild fragrance,
morningís blue cool,
how helpless!
How the heart aches!

      Today between him and me
      there is no third.
      There can be contact
      with a slight movement of the hand.
      But how many seasons have passed
      since hearing that voice.
      It is not hard for me to call upon him,
      but the truth is
      the voices and the accents
      do not have the same tones.
      The tune is the same but the hearts
      are not close enough.

Steel Mills Worker

Black ghost
born of sperm of coal
at hellish temperatures.
His work now to keep shovelling
coal into the burning furnace.
For this
he gets extra wages and special diet,
and no work beyond the four hours
at a time. Perhaps he
does not know that he has signed
a suicide pact in full knowledge.
He is the fuel for this furnace.

We Are All Dr Faustus

In a way we are all
Dr Faustus.
One from his craze
and another helpless from blackmail
barters away his soul.
One mortgages his eyes
to trade in dreams
and another offers
his mind as collateral.
All that one may need sense
is the currency of the day.
So a survey of lifeís Wall Street says
that among those with the buying power these days
self-respect is very popular.