City of Flowers

I've been moved over the past week to see my ghazal "City of Flowers," written as the only way I could speak about the recent killings in Peshawar, find its way around Facebook, shared by some friends and many strangers. I'm never more grateful for having words than when I find them resonating with others at difficult moments.

Today, a pleasant surprise to discover that it made it into a newspaper in Pakistan. Usually, I'd do some writerly cribbing about the way the formatting was completely messed up (poets spend a lot of timethinking through stanza breaks, alignment, italics, and things like that, people!), but in this case, I'm just grateful these words found their way to some of the strangers for whom they were written.

To the many whoevers who made that happen (and the ones who got the photograph to me!), thank you. Click here for the full text from the Aman ki Asha website, or read the photograph or full text of my poem (correctly formatted!) below.

city of flowers poem

City of Flowers  For Peshawar, 16 December 2014

My temples pound with laughters that died today. Fences collapse. No this side that side today.

I made a hundred thirty two paper dolls, drew neckties, burned them one by one, then finally cried today.

A bloodied pencil. A broken ruler. The impossibility of measurement. No desks under which to hide today.

A teacher who saved two hundred lives, cries when called a hero. A heart too tight for pride today.

Mine is not the grey silence of the unmoved. The matted hair has left me tongue-tied today.

And the dead, listening to the wails of those who remain: do you, at least, have someone in whom to confide today?

To leave the city’s famed flowers blooming, or to lay them all at gravesides — who should decide today?

Your cliches do not warm them, Aditi. If you say more, you will have lied today.