Poetry in Translation

Five Verses from a Qawwali
Sung by the Late Great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

by Rafiq Kathwari

When I ask, how does it rain?
You rap a bead of sweat on your forehead.

When I ask, how does lighting strike?
You glance at me and lower your eyes.

When I ask, how does day meet night?
You veil your face with hair.

When I ask, where does music get its magic?
You spike your talk with honey.

When I ask, what good is yearning?
You snuff a candle with your robe’s hem.

For Annie Zaidi