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
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.
And on the street that climbs back up,
bougainvillea clings to walls.
A water truck stops to take its fill.
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.