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from the March 2020 issue

No, My Veil Is Stained

A woman deflects a suitor’s advances in this melancholy poem by Parveen Shakir.

No, my veil is stained
and your turban’s every fold still crisp;
no breeze has yet dared
caress them.
Your bright forehead
does not yet hold a lost hour
from days past
that’s swelled and broken
as regret,
and I cannot meet your eyes
from the dark of my own.
Oh young man,
don’t gaze at me this way.
Take your fireflies,
your flowers—keep them safe.
Flowers will slip from a torn veil,
and fireflies, at first chance,
will scatter, however harsh
the light beyond.

Translation © 2020 by Adeeba Shahid Talukder. All rights reserved.

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