Warp and Weft by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

How we met in the lilt and nectary of the typed word
How air wove itself into spring around our screens and snapped time-

tables, and turned us from panic to song, spinning the counterfeit
back into gold, handing us to each other a filament at a time—

which we gathered, along with the shed hair of love’s ghosts, to weave
a home. We sat for lessons from hummingbirds that shape a cup

from twigs and shiny grasses, a nest just big enough to raise
their jeweled young, camouflaged with chips of lichen and bark.

“Shakar khura,” hummingbird in Urdu, means “sugar-devourer”
God gives sugar, as the saying goes, to the devourer of sugar

Would it be the same for love? I cup my hands wide enough for the seven
kinds of jasmines you grow or half a magnolia or a single bitter gourd—

Limits are to be kissed. The warbler marks its territory with song
And a country of sweet echoes is born, a mythos of whistle, rasp, chirp

Ours is a song of the loom, with the warp and weft of old country
and new. We knot the terrestrial with the lingual, the lost with the cumulous

such as ribbons of seaweed with fibers of photos, plumes of hill mynahs
with pulped passports. We rock in the burnt boats of our own embroidery.

Photograph by Shameem Hashmi
All audio, text and images are under copyright © Neelum Films LLC

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