Poetry ~ Sumera Saleem
Inside, I feel the pulse, keeping hours in my skin,
And care a pillowed heart.
I remember how distance was never
Stretched on the map of our troubles.
Connection like a munia kept soaring up
In a space called peace, serving
Messages of life and death, soul and breath.
Outside the window, my senses hang on the future,
Fragile, moving like fluttering shirts,
Hanging on a clothes line,
Oscillating in the midst of the wind.
Fears sail within unknown zones of silence.
Flying in every direction,
And settling nowhere is the dust of unreality.
A while ago, pigeons were freely wheeling on
A cool air, but when a sense of danger pulsed
Through their wind-ruffled bodies,
They hurriedly alighted on the wall,
A rapid rustle back home.
Even inside the cage, they kept on cooing as if
they were still busy defending their territories
Against rising dark clouds just like the way
We have been doing during quarantine,
Rushing inside our cages.
A hurried flight back home to defend our territories,
When every whiff of the wind was a warning,
No other defense against rising wind we could think.
It's just now that we’ve realized or perhaps
We haven’t, that despite having
Gadget-driven success how uncertain
The ends we all share, all,
Including the beings we used to control.
We all long for truth, be it alien or native
Though our bodies discredit outsiders
In diseased cages of ribs for the desire to heal,
Being tired of how everyone should feel.
Three devils of our ailing doom:
The zodiac, the unreal fears and the unneeded answers
When questions frown at good hearts
That we all wear on our body sleeves,
Slipping from which is the silk of senses
All naked, slaves of our own treachery.
Lies are the leaves we cover with our nakedness,
Flipping answers, flopping questions,
Truth is stubbornly nude, a misery to the mirror of being.
Some keep up the tradition of wearing
The cloaks of dignity, trimmed with many rags of empty pockets;
Kept unstared by the times, damned by frenzy-struck prayers.
Sumera Saleem is a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature, the University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Gold medalist in English literature from the University of the Punjab, and former sub-editor in the department of English, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. She has published poems in National and International literary magazines.