Two poems by Aliyah Kim Keshani
The Blessing Sailed Clean Over Our Heads
(Eid, 1992 – 2002)
we wore hot pink salwars
and chunky bangles
our hair backcombed into pineapples.
we squirmed at kisses
and skirted the legs of aunts,
running for the garden
where Junaid and Madiha waited.
cousins v cousins –
hurling tennis balls at stumps,
we spacehopped the patio
smashed conkers, chewed gum
cooed over the white cat
with its one blue one green eye.
we ate from paper plates
greased with samosas –
mutton curry, ladled dal, saffron rice
heaped, and smattered with cloves
and buttered naans.
we spooned lopsided kulfis
and wiped our fingers on Aunty Moon’s sofa
declaring we would NEVER eat again!
and how you took to sneaking out
to smoke rollies behind the fence
in your ripped jumpers
corduroy flares, your doc martins
while I sat on the sofa
plump and nodding
and waited –
when the room exploded with laughter –
for someone to translate.
Where God and Honour
are as sharp and as blind as a knife.
On the news
your cities heaped with milky-eyed beggars
and children waving stumps.
Your markets clouded with flies
and the dripping heads of lambs,
the pinching hands of passing men
and harried covered women
– all blown apart.
the flat roof in Karachi,
the smell of rubber and curry and rust,
eating warm sweet jelabis,
and the boys below
white salwars lifting on the wind,
the call to prayer
and up above
two eagles in the dusk.