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The View from Above

Shabnam Nadiya

This poem first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 4 (2020), alongside artwork by M. Atif Khan, also featured below.

The view from my balcony

is both limited and limitless.

The expanse of sky is rudely chunked off

by grey and earthen hued concrete

constructions (or constrictions, if you would have it so).

However, it being Dhanmondi, there are still,

here and there, one or two storied houses

with the green of lonely trees and shrubs surrounding.

It is late afternoon, as the sky darkens, promising torrents

and I on my lonely balcony considering the

cryptic skyline. A precious child sleeps in a house other than mine.

I leave her there, bringing home with me disquiet, solitude and undefined

afternoons. In the building opposite mine, a man stands in his veranda

a cell phone in hand, stealing glimpses of me. He moves away when his wife arrives,

only to return to sit with her sharing tea and time. In the window just beside

my veranda, the drawn curtains part just a little, pushed aside by two pairs of feet

together: one small, the other bigger and hairier. It begins to rain.

Snippets of conversation linger in memory, yet all I recall

are words that should have been.

The promised deluge arrives, just long enough and hard enough

to wash me away, leaving vestiges of my flesh

torn and unbidden amid the memories of a year.

'Gardenscape, III' by Muhammad Atif Khan (archival inkjet on Hahnemühle paper; 17.5 x 25 inches; 2020)


Shabnam Nadiya is a Bangladeshi writer and translator, settled in California. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her work has been published in Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton), One World (New Internationalist), Al Jazeera Online, [PANK], Amazon’s Day One, Chicago Quarterly Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Wasafiri, Words Without Borders and Gulf Coast. She has also translated Moinul Ahsan Saber’s novel, The Mercenary, and Shaheen Akhtar’s Beloved Rongomala. Shabnam was a recipient of the Schulze Fellowship in 2013-14 and the Steinbeck Fellowship in 2019-20. Her translation of Mashiul Alam's The Underpass was published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 4 (2020). For further information, visit

For information on the featured artist, Muhammad Atif Khan, click here.


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