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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 Firdaus


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.


Author-image-Rushda-RafeekRushda 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