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The Vale of Ashes

The Vale of Ashes

Abrar Fayaz

Mother eavesdrop on the archangels:
“Is the burning city short of coals?
They gather the autumnal leaves
and set fire to the past.”

Cashmere slides from green to ‘yellove’
to cold crimson—
fiery like a heavenly hell.

“Don’t you see the sluggishness of the season?
The winter is knocking at the door.
The city is immersed in the lake of mist—
They’ll all walk barefoot
on the icicles of the frozen time;
Cashmere shall die tonight.”

I can see them, shrouded in snow,
and ‘Pashmina’ — bearing decay of the decades.

“A massacre drenched the old city
and people fought over ‘where to bury the dead?’”

Oppressor is the cold air we breathe in—
we just can’t do anything!

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“Jaana, don’t leave the house;
the death is lurking
in the shades of olive green”,
mother shouts from the balcony.

See Also
Scream

“Mouj wadaan azz”,
I play ‘Jhelum’ on loop.
Tears turn into icicles beneath the eyelashes;
the cold waves tear my bones.

Mother brings the firepot down,
from the ‘Kaeni’,
fills it with coal and ash;
she burrows a spark from the burning Chinar
to light the ‘Kanger’.

“Let’s survive this season, son.
The fate of this vale is ‘ash’.”
C’ash’mir, C’ash’miere, C’ash’mere, K’ash’mir;
there is ‘ash’ everywhere.


(This Poem was published in the March 2021 print issue of the Mountain Ink.)

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