by Rushda Rafeek
Kashmir, July 2016
Pain is heat tattooed to this city,
blood rich from apple shrubs,
prayers quivering in lakes
as stars do.
Pain is chinar leaves dancing
to a smoke swirl, rouged henna
with salaams wrapped
in saffron musk for the dead.
Pain, a spear’s whisper one night
sharp as the jab of her nose pin—
smiles on wept crescent
and finger silk,
children up a collapsing balcony
like wingless bulbuls trying to fly
over songs chandeliered in heaven.
Say lovers in the hope to summon
gardens with no pain. His beard,
a winter cliff against her valley,
lull of shikara: the alif
scoured by her symphony.
Rushda Rafeek serves as a Fiction Editor for The Missing Slate magazine. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, Visual Verse, Through the Gate, The Shanghai Literary Review, and Strange Horizons, among others. She is currently based in Sri Lanka.
Image credit: © 2017 Rushda Rafeek