Agha Shahid Ali

(4 February 1949 – 8 December 2001 / New Delhi / India)

Of Light - Poem by Agha Shahid Ali

At dawn you leave. The river wears its skin of light.
And I traced love’s loss to the origin of light.

“I swallow down the goodbyes I won’t get to use.”
At grief’s speed she waves from a palanquin of light.

My book’s been burned? Send me the ashes, so I can say:
I’ve been sent the phoenix in a coffin of light.

From History tears learn a slanted understanding
of the human face torn by blood’s bulletin of light.

It was a temporal thought. Well, it has vanished.
Will Promethus commit the mortal sin of light?

She said, “My name is icicles coming down from it…”
Did I leave it, somewhere, in a margin of light?

When I go off alone, as if listening for God,
there’s absolutely nothing I can win of light.

Now everything’s left to the imagination -
a djinn has deprived even Aladdin of light.

We’ll see Manhattan, a bride in diamonds, one day
abashed to remind her sweet man, Brooklyn, of light.

“A cheekbone, / A curved piece of brow, / A pale eyelid…”
And the dark eye I make out with all within of light.

Stranger, when the river leans toward the emptiness,
abandon, for my darkness, the thick and thin of light.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, June 16, 2012



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