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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

Who Were They?

Shannan Mann

after Sahir Ludhianvi


Who were they who kissed, were in turn caressed?

I bowed to a garland of thorns when for roses I begged.


Longed for lovesongs, a sigh of ice did I receive —

inside the brothel of joy, with dust of grief was I dressed.


The heart’s burden doubled with each passing consoler; 

my thirst for a drop of nectar — a deluge of poison instead.


Lost were all lovers after a moment or two of touch.

Who has the time to hold the hand of the possessed?


Even my shadow I often found to have abandoned my body.

I sought the sun — by an eternal eclipse was I oppressed.


I’ll sew my lips, swallow my tears — life has light until death 

so why not live like the dead — all our sorrows unconfessed.


In this forest of grief I have no fear of grief — the tree of grief grows within.

I sowed for vines and roses — with weeds and thorns was I blessed.