Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani-American poet and translator. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and brings elements of the the Urdu and Persian poetic universe into her own work in English. Her poetry and translations have appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Consequence Magazine, Washington Square Review, Santa Ana River Review, PBS Frontline, and The Huffington Post among others. Adeeba lives in New York City.
June 8, 2016
On Lightning and Rest
— for Willem To be seen all day: I search, even now, for things to hide. Is this why the rose stays still? Why the bulbul, sadly, sings? I even launder/ with you You watch the clothes like a child. They turn in your eyes. There is nothing of Urdu poetry here, at least. In Faiz's Spring Outside it is cold and my hair falls without grace. I am beautiful then, if only for a moment: there is a mirror where my nose is holy. What if/ he was never mad/ to begin with At home you warm water in the kettle, fold my night like cloth, lift it so it dances with the dust.
"On Lightning and Rest" is one of my newer poems, composed just a week into my marriage. Throughout my first manuscript, I cloaked stories and emotions in classical Persian and Urdu metaphors and populated my poems with the characters of the ghazal, often using them to replace actual characters. There was in that an anonymity and grandiosity — and also, perhaps, a secret pleasure: these were poems that resided in an esoteric space, a space where I could reveal as much or as little as I wanted, a space where I navigated a little-known tradition, at least to the Western poetic world. More than anything, it was a space in which I dwelled, perhaps for years. "On Lightning and Rest," however, is about beginning to live with someone you love for the first time, and their coming to learn things — everything — about you with an alarming clarity. There is no longer a way to ornament who you are, nor a place to hide. In this poem, my speaker is beginning to search for beauty in herself as she is, and in the rituals of the life she now lives. The ghazal world informs her view of the world still, but it is in a subtler, more gentle way. Here, Faiz's Revolution and Majnoon's madness withdraw to the background as my speaker begins to see the world with new eyes.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press. All contents © the author.