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East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​


Of Jasmine and Rose

​By: Maira Faisal

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An ivory mug is hugged between my fingers,
blushing liquid amid curling, crescentic steam.
A memory surfaces in animated pieces and fogged splinters—
glimpses of darkening skies with stars strung in minatory sheens.


Whispered vows clouded the night,
hands clasped for the unknowingly last time.
As the migration of the alabaster birds drew nigh,
copper met bronze through lachrymose lashes, intertwined.


Traversing seas traded jasmine moonlight for rosy sunsets,
deep emeralds for reds and blues.
A single shade stayed when all was done and said.
White. Because white is blissful and blessed.


The false click of key in lock,
it was the reversing of wine into water.
I clutched a rose to my chest to test my luck,
adamant to ignore what its thorns augured.


Blinded by the red burrowing into my being,
it took a death to become hollow,
renegades to see being alone is better than bleeding,
and assiduity to shatter what I hauntingly hallowed.


Amma [Grandmother] repainted the world gold that day as I broke.
Cleaving marionette strings from my marred ribcage,
an ivory mug of green tea with star anise and cinnamon bark
reposed before me despite the ruin and wreckage.


As the mug emptied, needle pierced flesh restitching kismat and kismet.
Albeit the drink was of saffron strands and rose petals,
it was also of Pakistan and Mama’s Azad Kashmir,
reviving the emerald etched into my veins and vessel.


As I declared Pakistan Zindabad and America, E Pluribus Unum,
the depleted mug’s bottom surveyed me, pale as the moon.
In that gaze was the witness of a mellifluent union,
remembrances of years past and present in my mind.


Because unforgettable were the flitting partridges on shutters,
the hues of sage and cardamom,
of street bazaars and torrid summers,
of sugary mithai and masjids brimming with pilgrims.


And so in my sanative heart I once so loathed,
the beginnings of a barbed yasmin flower bloom,
for I am both.