Poems: Farah Ghafoor

Penelope and Satie’s Gnossienne No. 2: Blood Duty

In the restlessness we find peace, our surrender
routine. We toil and trust in the summer storm,
faithfully tragic. These seasons parrot days,
fleeting and reasonable. These seasons stumble
on human activities – our births and deaths – briefly
then straighten themselves.

Our son, his eyes have lost your ferocity, too.
Like the harvest, you would think droughts
make men bolder, but your son quivers
and bows to the sky at first light.

I fear the war owns more
of your blood than he does.

When you meet, will you know him?

You’ll expect to see your shadow
and find your name
dulled by the sun like metal.


Penelope and Satie’s Gnossienne No. 3: The Suitors

The rain can only live between two worlds –
its lifespan preserved for as long as the sky is deep.

Below, the wind will always touch
you without asking. And on colder days,
beat your face in.

I didn’t notice the chill
until recently, until it entered my home insatiable
and I saw its many eyes.

My son, guilt-mouthed,
brings me sweaters where I sit on the beach,
where even the water watches me:
reaching out with a twisted arm,
lunging forward with a wet slap of mouth.

I confess. At times, my loneliness spoils
like milk, and makes my heart murky.
But the next day, the wound tears out
its weak stitches, and leaks, fresh as a new day.

My father once said he’d marry me
to the rain and absolve
me of questions, of protest.

Some days, I say
nothing at all.


Penelope and Satie’s Gnossienne No. 4: The Shroud

Your father is dead, and your blood has faltered.

Your father is still here and his sandals are lost
somewhere in this house. He resides in my son’s small, disarming eyes,
and under my gaze as I craft him a purpose.

Your father’s body is not here: it toils in his fields,
owned now by the earth.

My son assembles daylight to watch me nurse the shroud,
bring color to its face, and he, as usual,
makes no sound.

When darkness lays its warm hands on our shoulders,
I unweave my creation, and for a few hours,
we are as still as secrets, loyal and passive.

Convinced, the crickets
mourn. The moon showers
silk upon my loom. The people day-
dream. You must own solitude

to make use of the dead.


Penelope and Satie’s Gnossienne No. 5: Departure

Since you’ve left, I’ve seen Telemachus leave and return leashed by the moon,
and each time, he kneels so I may smooth his hair back, shutting his eyes
like the boy I dreamt of last night, sleeping on the waves, his skin red
with sun and as wrinkled as I.

This morning when I opened my eyes, he had been born and expelled again
from this house. I stood as I received the news, and I continued
to stand after they left. The day fell to its stunning conclusion,
my pillars unmoved and cracked.

Is this how you felt, then? The sea: that father,
child, melodrama. Its tide shy, then bold.
Daily, it would reach for your touch.

You shouldn’t have ever leaned forward.

You own not a drop
of the animal.


Farah Ghafoor’s poems have recently appeared in Halal if You Hear Me, a BreakBeat Poets anthology edited by Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo, and Glass: a Journal of Poetry. Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and has been recognized by Hollins University, the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association, the League of Canadian Poets, and Columbia College Chicago. She is the editor-in-chief of Sugar Rascals Magazine and attends the University of Toronto.

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