The poem was first published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 1(2017). Click here to order volume one.
I tweet; someone retweets my tweet.
I lock into his life, wrestling with
Pinpricks of information; how he cycles
To work in Delhi, or deals with another
Man telling his friend that her child is
Half-black, and thus, ugly. Gasping, I enter
The angry man’s life, feel his vitriol
crisping the edges of his existence.
Then on to someone else, a young girl
In Idaho, agonizing over a sock to conceal
Her cast. She broke a leg as she
Flipped on a trampoline, the prom is
A few hours away, and no sock matches
The shade of her blue dress.
Then, with Google Earth, I close in
On Pompeii and Herculaneum.
I see the towns, but this device
Does nothing to restore the livid hour
When hot ash nimbly scoured living flesh,
Then encased forever the stricken postures
Of those that could not escape:
Like the woman heavy with child,
Her husband draped about her.
At Herculaneum, the girl with the silver earrings
Is just bones, not far from
Pliny the Third, who stood snug
Inside his carapace of bravado
Till the surge of heat tore it away.
I think of Aldous Huxley’s character
Who wants to write of smoke
Escaping from the chimney at the same
Time that he describes food being
Cooked, birds in the air, guests at the table,
All captured in a single gust of narrative.
He wants to push skeins of thought,
The chemical reactions of meat touching fire,
The mechanics of flight, all, all, like cake mix,
Into his pen’s icing cone, to be squeezed out
Touched with the alchemy
Of absolute knowledge.
Let’s say it then: touched
With the impossible.
I, too, want to feel the lift of the scar on that
Youngster’s leg. I want to hear the timbre
Of the girl who waited for help at the beach
As she cried for the last time.
I want to sing with the spokes of the wheels that take
The cyclist to work on limpid winter mornings.
I almost do, with my smart phone,
Visiting rooms and people, zooming in and out of
Beaches and villas that were once doomed.
But I, and Huxley’s character, will never sit
For years under a tree for that blinding intuition,
That searing knowledge that sees all in
The once and always moment.
That terrifying, molten God’s eye-view.
Mehvash Amin is the Publishing Editor at The Aleph Review.
Abdul Rehman is a visual artist and educator currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. Trained in traditional techniques at the Naqsh School of Arts, Lahore, he went on to pursue and complete his BFA in Visual Arts and Design in 2020 at Beaconhouse National University Lahore, where he was awarded a Distinction. His work has been exhibited and published in various exhibitions. Furthermore, his innovative artworks that employ the use of the QR code symbol have also been displayed. AB currently holds a teaching position at the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. Artwork and artist bio courtesy Pakistan Forum Gallery.