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Wings of Concrete

Afshan Shafi

A poem from our Poetry Editor.

They flamed on her small back, enormous, messianic.

handily attached to backstraps,

and plain for all their beautiful flutings.

The wings of concrete had lain, ponderously,

in a primordial attic

between feathers and scabs of lead,

frequently shedding,

tears of lime, small fans of light.

Before the war, they had known, summer, like music,

moving over their spines.

In winter, they had known the noise of the streets,

and tidy pools of embers which reddened cold faces.

Now, on odd days, every leaf on a tree flattens to shroud,

carrying cavalcades of hunched children.

Their wings are the

ivory of lightning, and carved intricately, like lace.

Over the torn streets, they glide without sound.

Just yesterday, their voices were the calls

of young birds.

Just yesterday, they had wished to fly,

but within the sweet mass of the earth

and into the arms of mothers

smiling into the great, swift

crevasse of the sea.

Artwork by Rakhshanda Atawar

This painting is from an exhibit at Fatima Imran’s gallery, 8B2, in Islamabad. The exhibit, entitled Stressed Worlds, was curated by Aasim Akhtar.


About the artist: Rakhshanda Atawar was born and raised in Sialkot. She graduated in Fine Arts from Government College, Lahore, in 1981 and earned a Masters degree in Fine Arts from The Punjab University, Lahore, in 1984. With a portfolio spanning more than three decades, Atawar has shown with both national and international galleries, and has been part of the Taj Mahal Project 2004 in Agra, India. Atawar has served as the Principal at Hunerkada, Lahore, and as Head of the Department at the NCBA & E, Lahore. She has been the Co-Founder & Curator of 39K, Lahore. Currently she lives and works in Lahore.


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