Shah Tazrian Ashrafi
This poem first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 4 (2020).
My mother’s leopards,
Her trees, her creeks,
My mother’s deer,
Her waterfalls, her springs,
My mother’s skin spun out of earth,
Her rocks, her boulders,
My mother’s birds,
Her gibbons, her monkeys,
My mother’s sloth bears,
Her Rhinos, her wolves—
All have been plucked out of her garden.
Watered by the tropical monsoon
That rises from the palms of Bay of Bengal
Dried by the northern winds
That smell of pines
Blessed by the undisturbed sunlight
God, have they been plucked out
And thrown into the cities
To be crushed under their metal tires,
Snapped in halves by their concrete hands,
Chewed by their Iron teeth
Fried by their sizzling palms of steel
To be boxed inside their skyscraper heads
To seep into their concrete skin
To lie stunned on their asphalts
To roam their landfills like ghosts of the past
To decorate their roads, their museums
To vanish into their dusty air
To mobilise their fast wheels—
Shah Tazrian Ashrafi currently resides in Dhaka and writes for The Daily Star, Bangladesh’s largest English newspaper. His works have appeared in various supplements of The Daily Star, The Metaworker, Kitaab, Monsoon Letters, and Daily Times (Pakistan). He is an avid follower of South Asian literature. He can often be spotted fanboying over Arundhati Roy and speaking about leopards.
About the featured artist: Sara Khan was born in Birmingham, England, and raised in Lahore. She holds a BFA (with honours) from the National College of Arts, Lahore. Her works have been featured in several national and international group exhibitions. She was selected as one amongst 13 international artists for the Bag Art Camp, an international art residency in Bergen, Norway. She was also selected to be a part of the 13 Satellites of Lahore, a public art workshop held at the Annemarie Schimmel Haus, Lahore. She lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.