Poem For Agha Shahid Ali (1949 – 2001) by Rafiq Kathwari


ScreenHunter_03 Dec. 08 19.50In Kashmir, half-asleep, Mother listens to the rain
In Manhattan, I feel her presence in the rain

A rooster precedes the Call to Prayer at Dawn
God is a name dropper: All names at once in the rain

Forsythia shrivel in a vase on her nightstand
On my windowsills wilted petals, a petulance in the rain

She must wonder when he will put on the kettle
Butter the crumpets, offer compliments to the rain

Awake, she veils her hair, says a prayer—across the seas
Water in my hands becomes a reverence in the rain

At Jewel House in Srinagar, Mother reshapes my ghazal
“No enjambments,” she says. Waah Waah I chant in the rain

“Rafiq,” I hear her call above the city din
The kettle whistles: Mother’s scent in the rain

For Agha Shahid Ali, Kashmiri-American Poet, on the 10th anniversary of his death: February 1949—December 2001. Rafiq Kathwari is a guest writer at 3 Quarks Daily.