Three poems by Samiah Haque

in a waiting room with paintings

when you want something soft
look at this pastel drawing:

the artist had smelled soft
a whiff in a busy street and a house
near the mountains with a lake
of shining waters, isn’t that soft? and
isn’t that inner joy, red of apples and a green?
isn’t it a place to dream for? look at the singing
grasses, the quietude of a house in starlight
sound of a bangle against the door jamb, a bird
with large seeing eyes?

in our lands the poppies grow in winter
around us is ice and ice and a sun which
makes it too beautiful for sight and whiter
for the red buds—we don’t touch
once there was a wind, and you sought the darkness
of my hair to keep, to keep—in these plains
i want to kiss you, and to kiss into you
truth, something other than an imagined softness.


 still life

glasses of water
half filled
there is a feeling of ripened mango
here, on your fingers and slick
on a knife
we talk of great tragedy
over a cup of tea and
over a sticky bowl
every object asks a question
you want unanswered or watches
you worship the still the deep
while curled up lie peels
arranging private conceits
as the sweet flesh lulls you to sleep.


on may 9 you bought a watermelon

your hands: steady and drenched in water
tenderly bathing its expectant curves—
fluid bulges—your fingers soothe
all the dents the scrapes the hurts of a life
rolling down hills-carts-a peddler’s hands
and so much sun

i am thinking you would be such a good mother

my hands: steady as i trace our names
on its smooth surface carving my love and calling out
to time to the power of the darkening green against the tip
of my heart and i know that there is no act
that could hold more worship than this

in the afternoon on a wooden table stained
with the shadows of our laughter—sweet red juice
shiny black pips—
are two rinds rocking in tandem
to some inside joke.

Samiah Haque speaks in fluid tones, with an acute clarity of voice. Her hobbies include jaywalking, whistling in the company of passers-by, and skipping to the lou. Recently, she has taken to advising young soldiers on the subject of hygiene and proper table manners. She lives in a swollen field outside of Madrid.

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