I will die at the golden hour…

December 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

by Huma Dar
dedicated to the memory of Agha Shahid Ali (4 Feb 1949 — 8 Dec 2001), and that of some other Shahids…
Untitled.  photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008

Untitled. photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008

I will die at the golden hour
on a Fall afternoon
in a car:
the driver’s seat
In this pretzel of time
no sound I recall
except a storm of silence
when the door softly opens
and I’ll spill out
gently, very gently –
a paper doll
a paisley spine
snapping in two
with too much living
or too much loving
No bleeding outside
only internal
– as always
A slight smile
quizzical on my face
the kalima la ilaaha…
Shahid, the Witness
on my tongue
unowned memories of
Shahid, the Beloved
a janoon
clenched unjealously tight
in my heart
an invisible key to
that other “rival to the garden of paradise”
– another jannat
on a bangle
around my left wrist
my Peruvian purse
with its mouth gasping open
scatters on the road
besides the car door:
my kajal, lipstick, a vial of musk
with china lilies
and cashmere rose
a red cell phone
with saved texts
and unsent calls
A scene, smell
a soundless taste
of death
that’s clung to me
since I was four
like the hint of musk-lily-rose elixir
I leave behind
wherever I go
Like the distant cousin
always dressed in mauve
possessed by the jealous
“smokeless one
of scorching fire”
who could not
would not
share her
who warned in baritone
of death
And she did
die
as foretold
trousseau-shopping
on the way to Peshawar
none other in that car injured
except her:
the virgin death
her dainty cosmetics spilling out
on the Grand Trunk Road
from her vanity-case
That’s the way I will die
at a golden hour
on a Fall afternoon
in a car:
the driver’s seat
me,
and my djinn
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