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Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Afshan Shafi

This fortnight, Senior Contributing Editor Afshan Shafi curates the website. Her poem is about re-inventing oneself through the craft of writing. It is also partly influenced by the work of the female surrealist Remedios Varo. The archival piece that she has chosen is from Volume 2 of The Aleph Review, The Lieutenant with the Agate Eyes. Her new piece for the fortnight is a bracingly modern poem by London-based Ilyas Kassam. Wait for it!

The Self Caught outside the Door

Papilla Estelar by Remedios Varo (1958, Gallery Wendi Norris)

Often no more than a grayish cast of rain

                  she is fluent in conjugations 

                           And half measures

(a bright pelling,  a water show)

       Her ache to mark the truth,

                       Keeps her behind a veil

        Each text is a tiny pile of stones-

                    She receives them with her hands by her sides

Eyes that are platinum,


                            Not swimmers or prone to sing

Around her, an aureole splinters meekly

   It singes to warp

                   the chrome fuzz of her hair

When she speaks

     Her words fleck the air;

                       Wry, engine red, 


                                                              Descending into flame

When the words shed their attire

                  They are poor snakes, coat-less, un-glossed

Her words, concern the earth, 

                 They do not fall

They do not court the eroding fact

             like confetti

                    They flatten to a common fringe

(The door lightens to filament

         Her feet leave her, in a flush of rain

Tiny batmen thunder exculpations

Court her, insisting

You are not you

You are not your given body)


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