Enter Their Homes

for Kashmir

Enter their homes, hook the lantern of truth
on their wall, watch a woman bent over a cold

stove, her heart is cracked open like the window
right now, the surgical breeze caught in

its rubber seals. The man outside is called to
duty, he feels the fire of heaven singe his nape,

he looks around and through, the stones are quiet,
smeared with fading echoes. The woman’s home

has eaten hunger for another day like a plump steak;
he, wearing his dress of rubber, imagines dinner,

the camp will be more restful than the streets
today, vats of cooling beverage and pots of meat

beckon his senses. She is thinking of food while
looking at the chewed corners of her home’s

wall stumps – the children’s teeth marks deepen;
she is looking at the sparrow’s nest that never fled;

much of the carefully picked straw-twigs scattered
with the first rain of shells, much of the splinters

fill in gaps and holes; the eggs haven’t hatched,
the sparrow’s eyes dilate the woman’s; they are

in internal war, finding food that resists becoming
food. Dusk is barging in fast with the hovering of

a shameful sun. The lantern you hooked on her
wall is sinking; the air is naked on their skins

ebbing the hair to stand on its roots. They are
on guard against the approach of dawn. By evening,

against the splatter of crimson. Sleep is a horse’s
hooves on the tired soils of their eyelids. Stones

are stirring with rested breathing. Her heart
is cracked; the stove is cold; her gaze volleys

between lantern and stove. She feels the blood
in her children’s bodies rumble low like lurking

hurricanes. The night is heat, their hands are flints,
their eyes questioning which fire to keep burning.

Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her works appear in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Polish Italian, Albanian and Persian. More about her can be found at sheikha82.wordpress.com Read other articles by SheikhaA, or visit SheikhaA's website.