Ross Island & Other Poems

by Jhilam

Ross Island

Stitched to the silken sea, here
sun bathed winds post letters from the past.
White seagulls and one lonely deer breathe into
the roots clutching English ruins;
a dancing hall, a bakery, a church.

Naked bricks blow kisses—
their scarlet mouths gape at coconut trees
swaying madly to some secret English tune.
A pink grass lily blushes beneath a Japanese bunker and
beyond its ashen silhouette, the sapphire sea
laps up memories of a
an English summer.

Black rocks languor on sunny, sandy grains.
Flirty, foamy waves frolic in their embrace.
One uprooted tree lies with its head squashed into the sea,
reminding of the giant monster inside.
Honking steamers rush in, rush out
Dropping and picking
noisy travellers.

Darkness descends—
White and Black shadows begin their tragedy.


A Villanelle

In this country we step out with doors in our arms.
Children run out with windows in their arms.
—Agha Shahid Ali

Let them play and sing, the children of Kashmir.
O! Do not let blood imbue their hands,
Let them paint a happy tasveer.

Rowing a Shikara, Salim tells Basheer,
“Deserts are huge oceans of sands”.
Let them read books, the children of Kashmir.

Put a Parijata on the scarlet lakeer,
Bury the warring bands.
Let them paint a happy tasveer.

The fanatics failed words of the fakeer;
That word alone can heal the land.
Let them think, the children of Kashmir.

Tell them stories of Ranjha and Heer,
Love will bloom new and brand!
Let them paint their happy tasveer.

The godless temples do not tell their taqdeer
Jhelum flows on, just as the army planned.
Let them play and sing, the children of Kashmir.
Let them paint a happy tasveer.

Poets Note on Ross Island & Other Poems:

tasveer- Painting
shikara- wooden boat commonly seen on water bodies in Kashmir
parijata- an aromatic flower popular in hindu mythology and culture
fakeer- a travelling muslim or a hindu mendicant
Ranjha and Heer- a famous tragic love story in Indian popular/folk culture
taqdeer- fate

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