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Words Without Borders is one of the inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winners!
from the July 2018 issue

Mustard Flowers

An elderly man sees past traffic stops and car horns to something deeper from his morning perch in this poem from Ajmer Rode.


If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you.
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor is he taking a brief rest before
resuming his walk.
He doesn't intend to shop in the
nearby stores either
he is just sitting there on the bench.

Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
Nobody is interested.
And he doesn't seem to care
if someone listens or not.

A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors, and
similes flows through his head.
When everything stops
at the traffic lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks
his neighbor's dog barks.

When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.
 

Original text and translation © Ajmer Rode. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

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