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from the August 2019 issue

Phone Call

In this poem by Tahir Hamut, a woman's wait for a phone call turns into a series of reminiscences—or are they figments of the imagination?


Listen to Tahir Hamut read "Phone Call" in the original Uyghur.

A phone call makes the heart tremble

The vexing wind swoops
like an ancient Indian dance
This was a day passed
inside a whirlwind
A phone call from the last century
connects to a simple “Hello?”

An intermezzo from the dusky elm’s trunk
fans the spirit lamp into a bonfire
while on a mattress
amidst an armful of hair
a beautiful woman tosses and turns
In her mind she kisses the voice
In her mind she sees the daybreak
The man on the phone
with his flair for invention
the march
of an army of ghosts

A phone call makes the heart tremble
A fistful of white wool cast on the fire
She intends to see the dance
Darning her socks
she intends to await her call forever

And the witch cat of legend
jangles a ring of keys

            October 1993, Beijing

"ئىلى دەرياسى" © Tahir Hamut. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Joshua L. Freeman. All rights reserved.

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