for Michael Rothenberg
Will someone rescue these demented lines from the fever and fury of their loss? The season on fire the moon is out a-harvesting this fall its tuft of hair unruly on its brow. What reckoning awaits? The past, a wrinkle a ridge to stumble over and enter the urn of the hollowed self. Amigo, are you there? Call him Michael. Call him Mike. He does not hear you anymore. Beyond the harvest moon a black-crowned night heron shakes its wings and prepares to fly. Can you hear the dwellers of these marshes? Their odes to the subterfuge that is life? Hermano, it is you I am trying to reach. In a blaze of blue flames the bird is on the wing its breath glittering gold dust. But it is dark here. And the moon has not yet run out of its spite. Go in peace for your breath is now spores of light on the wind’s back floating across oceans and continents seeded in the hearts of young and old alike. One body only you have shed and, bird, taken another.
©2022 Waqas Khwaja
All rights reserved
…has published four collections of poetry, Hold Your Breath, No One Waits for the Train, Mariam’s Lament, and Six Geese from a Tomb at Medum, and a literary travelogue, Writers and Landscapes, about his experiences as a fellow of the International Writers Program, University of Iowa, in addition to three edited anthologies of Pakistani literature, Cactus, Mornings in the Wilderness, and Short Stories from Pakistan. He served as translation editor (and contributor) for Modern Poetry of Pakistan, a Pakistan Academy of Letters project supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, showcasing translations of poems by 44 poets from Pakistan’s national and regional languages. He guest-edited a special issue of scholarly articles on Pakistani Literature for the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies and another, on Pakistani poetry, for Atlanta Review. Khwaja is the Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English at Agnes Scott College where he teaches courses in Postcolonial literature, British Romanticism, The Gothic, Literature of Empire, Victorian novel, 19th century poetry, and Creative Writing.