Shahilla Shariff

Shahilla Shariff

Shahilla Shariff is the author of a collection of poetry, Life Lines (Proverse Hong Kong, 2012). Her poetry has been featured in various anthologies and journals, including most recently (2020) in Columbia Journal of Literature and Art, World Literature Today, Literary Review of Canada, American Writers Review’s Art in the Time of Covid-19 and (2021) in Voice and Verse Poetry Magazine (Issue 58, upcoming).

Shahilla Shariff is a Canadian living in Hong Kong.

Only A Few Words Are Left

long   ago                                               I   learned                                               Arabic

        only                                             a   few   words                           are   left

                 hawa                                            bahr                                    samar

            indolent                                                                           breeze

                              grainy                                           wild   figs

salt-studded     sand                                                  not-so-distant     sea

             evening’s                         blue-black                    tattoo

     crushed   pomegranates                                        a   bowl   of   roses

loosening at midnight                                      a   chipped   glass   pitcher

     half-filled                                      cold   kirkadeh                       carrying      night



Five euros –
the Senegalese woman
on a beachfront
slips a bracelet
on me.

Take my hand

La vie est très dure ici
she confides
to the live band.

mystery hand
your five fingers
point to a safety
far from life’s

Five for five
khamsa for khamsa.

Take my hand

The music stops
concrete retreats
in the fury of rain.

She is done bargaining
the lady of trinkets
and shipwrecks
with her cargo
of misplaced hands.


Poetry in this post: © Shahilla Shariff
Published with the permission of Shahilla Shariff