Sunday Poem


Somewhere (thank you, father) over the hills,
through some trap-door in my mind, despite my having
no call to speak it, and hearing of it so long ago,
I know the Urdu ishq is love.
And further, how it’s the highest (a divine fervour,
a bolt cued from the round heavens – almost angelic)
among a whole host of forms, or feathers, of love
like that myth of subtle Inuit measures of snow

and now I’ve utterly gone and put my foot in it
and other shoppers are turning round, as we inch
up to the queue’s end, still far from those tills,
and she’s prodding me to explain my short-falling
answer – giving the nod, when she asked me If . . . and Whether . . .
– she swears that at the end of my assent she heard me whisper

by Zaffar Kunial
from The Poetry Review,
Autumn 2014