by Nazneen Zafar
The Inner Life of Limbs
Like shirts on a line
that has twisted
from the poles in the yard
and is being towed
by the breeze
to someone else’s
scrap of a back-garden,
above the wet rice field. In the air,
stick out far beyond the tail, and they keep
as well-behavedly together
as the strange
we once noticed in the park,
the one who, entranced
by the fat goldfish
in the ornamental pond,
pointed them out to mum
with the neatly joined up index fingers
of both his hands … Reminding me
of how, sometimes,
lying on your side
—arms out, hands ‘standing tiptoe’—
to attempt, in sleep,
a balletic leap.
Or, who knows, maybe even
We’ll be five at dinner this evening. I have laid the table
for six. Not to mark the place of someone I invited
in vain. Or forgot to invite. Or didn’t want to,
this time around. Not for symmetry’s sake.
Not to thumb my nose at all the unspokens
that go into cooking up a Meaning and a Purpose
for every little thing. No, I want the five of us today
to come, gradually—over salad, curry, wine—
to see the clean plate and cold seat
in the same light as when, to avoid short-changing
customers, to please them into returning, bakers
throw in a thirteenth roll. A self-serving gesture,
perhaps. But one that allows for a certain sloppy
openness. Lets happiness haunt it.
The Villa of Livia’s Garden Room Fresco
My love, when you and I
in bed, under the pillows
we don’t do it
in the hope
Reality’s gold coin
or Philosophy’s cold wrist-watch.
Nor do we take
the egg-and-dart pattern
of our quilt
Paradise’s rivers and roses.
But once the darkness widens
we make quiet love quite simply in our little room
and from above our heads,
the Blu-tacked picture
the bedside book-stacks
with a garden
running riot, and in ruins. . .
Where, around the radiant
quince, oak and pomegranate
trees, jays, blackbirds and orioles
throbbing, like that of our two hearts,
by the exquisite
of having come so freely
and from so far
as real, as ethereal, as this
Editors’ note: The poem, “My Banquo,” originally appeared as the poem, “My Mudita,” in Bridging the Waters III, An International Bilingual Poetry Anthology (Korean, American, Other | 한국어와 영어), Co-edited by Yoon-Ho Cho & Stanley H. Barkan.
Dreamy and relaxing. The words of poems seem to softly echo. I feel peaceful after reading.
Breathtaking! Nazneen captures ordinary details and renders them extraordinary, full of playful magic and unbound emotions.
the warmth these poems emanate gives me the feeling of haikus, stringed together, luring me inside.
I’ve been returning to these words over the past few days. Nazneen has elegantly painted moments that really persist and I find something new with each return. Today I’m circling her sweet play on the idea of a baker’s dozen at the dinner table, it’s just pure delight.