Sheikha A. (b. 1982) currently lives in Pakistan. She has authored a short poetry collection Spaced (Hammer and Anvil Books, 2013). Her work has appeared in Red Fez, American Diversity Report, Open Road Review, ken*again, The Bactrian Room, Carcinogenic Poetry (Virgogray Press), Mad Swirl, Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts, The Muse, Danse Macabre du Jour and several anthologies.
Her poetry has also been recited at a couple of events, the recent of which was 100 Thousand Poets for Change held in Larissa, Greece. She edits poetry for eFiction India.
To read more of her works, visit her website: sheikha82.wordpress.com.
The sea had promised to behave tonight; by its shore
I watched its teeth try biting into my ankles but the skin
on my persevered bones had grown scales of its own.
The wind didn’t partisan the moon as I watched them
spasm against the sky while the water beneath lunged
to pull me into its mystique, but my stories were not made
for ships and anchors the ghosts of estranged seas awaited
during nights like these. The air could no longer fathom
its existence between chaotic demonstrations at play
and the script had long surrendered its ink to the master
weavers of demi-destinies. Late by a whole monsoon,
the wind lashed at the waters to rouse up an indefatigable,
ceaseless cyclone. My feet no longer holding to the sand,
all membranes drained, the tears now turning demulcent
under the sky’s own; it didn’t take long for the sea to turn
away, when I had nearly given in, and move to rocks
instead. Maybe some other night, I shall visit again,
to see you peek your blue, bejewelled head. I will walk
as many shores of different lands far from Aegae,
until you have relinquished as much as me.
Roll out the scrolls
that have been written
with no haste
I have brought my eyes
to scan through your prophecies
under your lyre of diversions
The city has called upon night
and another god to light
their days of plagued dreams
The music from strings
is shrill upon the rocks
falling like dust on ashes
Their sandals have not
chewed any paths of poetry
Their ears turned to glass
cannot be broken
From spells of a water witch
teaching the world to create
beauty different to Selene’s
the world lulls
and the city herds flocks
of nymphs to your lair
while you sit under trees
that bear your pursuits
wilting to your cadence.
Sometimes some people hang a noose on her,
other times a swing. She gets many visitors
irrespective of time or date, they eat from her,
most times simply lay under her exposed face
looking for either beauty or some thread of charm
justifying why her father would objectify her
as rescue from subjectification. Her wisdom
is not visible through the densities of her bark
that disappear into the colour of brown nights
when even the moon stays camouflaged in blue.
If Apollo’s light hadn’t burnished her golden,
she would have sung paeans on glorious mornings
that swathed her river-homes with warmth.
The years keep growing on her, limb after limb,
she breathes through every season, watching
her body fall to the ground and soul submerged
in the scent of lead, the flowers in her hair blacken
upon the whisper of her name: Daphne floating
through the spaces of where her leaves have shed.
Tears are no portrayal of her pain. As her limbs
dent season after season from the weights
of self-delivered suicides, she grows new fingers –
the morning light sustaining her resurrections.
She thought the whole purpose of travel was freedom.
She has been ploughing rocks with her laments
killing the chords in her throat to raise decibels
like offsprings and teach them bodies mean nothing
to survive death, that to travel end to end without mortals’
supervisions, the life of a voice went far not unnoticed.
Their unformed cherubic faces reflect hints of narcissism;
their eyes: truthful stones. Quick to learn of tapestry,
it doesn’t take long to skill travesty. She knows well
of the routes, except the search out of these endless caves
has left her short of breath. The children of Narcissus
live un-metamorphosed, in the chrysalis of her dreams
swinging rock to rock, calling it a game. She pacifies
by conceiving echoes in her womb. A voice needs none
of fatherhood. A brush of whisper could send shivers
to the pools he should visit, falling deeper into their rippling
casting no glance to the mountains blurring like a flame
against the torrid wind.
The Unserved Justice
I dip my head in your chastity
The vastness of your chest such
that you could quite as possibly hold
several hearts in your cleaved cavity
The rare coral, pearl or seashell
None of the gifts that lured me
to Minerva’s temple that usurped
my hair, eyes and immortality
And here you sprawl
extenuated by virtue of divinity
pole to pole honoured as ‘life’
sending droughts back to Hell
from where she wails for her mother
You have my skull hissing
like entangled waves in a storm
walking your world moonless
only in nights when stars too sleep
You crash against large stones
the life behind which I rescued
from your insatiable excursions
Your body is cold under my feet
Don’t look into my eyes if you won’t
but you can’t escape my mouth
breathing your name on my tongue
like an incurable plague.
Last night I saw you for a brief moment,
blinking at me from behind the clouds,
I wouldn’t have been able to tell but the sky
was a queer invisibility, as if having opened
one of its gates, and a sheer light mirrored
through the dark, coagulating mass.
I thought these were tricks of a mind
withdrawing from mythical theories
about life between thunders
but you signalled thrice. When I probed
the sky, you were nifty in shifting
away from my peering.
Safe to say, I could have done without
your glow birds – the lightning,
the thundering – their cursory fluttering
left me momentarily disjointed.
The night was, admittedly, sootier than lead,
but not my sight.
You didn’t rumble down rain
after the Elysian flash of luminosity
and the sky didn’t move for several seconds.
The gate must have closed
for the clouds disappeared within their mass.
I cut water
with a knife held steadily to the centre of my palm,
by a white strip of cloth wrapped around it
ensuring the handle clung firmly;
these elaborate precautions because you trusted the knife
more than my hand.
Your hand can lose grip in high waves,
and the knife must not be snatched away.
I asked by whom, and the old woman replied:
from ill spirited waves.
But why white?
It is a colour pungent to evil.
Most people wouldn’t understand
the procedures of warding off ailments.
The old woman was a reader of auras,
and she knew well of latching –
these that despised the scents of salt,
the abundance of which saturated the seas.
We boarded the dinghy meant to carry us
to the centre of my cure – surreal medication –
but old women generally knew better
from having walked the planet longer;
the one with me had walked several.
Tip the blade to the water
as we go further, drive the blade deeper
till the shaft is fully immersed.
Cut the water like you would slice
open a vein. Hold your hand steadfast
fighting any urge to be pulled into
the delusively pleading waves tugging at your hand
and listen, instead, to the howling over
A short while later drawing a neat slit
across the face of what seemed like a broad sheet
of sky holding goblets of white lies, I awaited
the howl, the cry, the pine
but all that echoed into the thinness
were sounds of a whimpering motor,
larking of gulls overhead,
and humming of the sea in séance;
the blurring helm of the docks in the distance
and the whitening of the old woman’s eyes
Poetry in this post: © Sheikha A.
Published with the permission of Sheikha A.