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My Karachi and the Sea

Saba Z Husain

The wind from the sea, stench of fish on the beach,

glides through the chinks in the torn screen,

morning gropes for rooms and stairs,

hair on forehead like drowned petals,

skin tantalized by sweat

sends prayers,

and not far from the gated homes,

bus smog lingers.

The homeless sleep on footpaths like bluebottles littering sand.

The green shrine’s steps lose water’s edge.

Here is exhaustion on graveled night,

dreams of sweetened saffron.

Under the Tamarind tree

the old bazaar reels

from vendors’ drawn-out calls,

crackling snacks, cars circling

like starving dogs,

fuming generators, light bulbs

singeing decades of grime, limbs

groveling on asphalt.

Photo Courtesy: Hassan Tahir Latif

And on the street that climbs back up,

bougainvillea clings to walls.

A water truck stops to take its fill.

Morning staggers

onto side streets and lawns,

onto driveways, through windows and doors,

into rooms lulled by the sea,

while fish die on the beach.


Saba Z Husain is a Pakistani-American poet whose work has appeared in Sequestrum, Bangalore Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Texas Review, Bellevue Review, Jaggery, Missing Slate, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2021 and 2020 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and semifinalist for the 2020 Philip Levine Poetry Prize.


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