Two Poems by Rasaq Malik

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


FIRDAUS

         (After reading Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi)

Everything begins with horror:
In Nigeria they turn women into rags.
In India they turn women into dogs.
Their hearts burn when they sleep.

Everything ends with death:
Firdaus's story, women like her,
their plights, their silent memories,
a sea of yearnings drained by callous fingers.

Everything ends at the gallows:
Firdaus's dreams, women like her,
their bodies that bear the scars of rape.
Their mouths that reek of men's palms.
Their voices choked by griefs.

Everything ends at the gallows:
Firdaus's courage, women like her,
their desire to murder their torturers —
men whose hearts are dark walls;
men whose eyes are full of thistles and tricks.

Everything ends with these women:
Firdaus, women like her, their screams
that sail in the toxic air. Their battered
hopes, their hands full of knives, their
stories that knot our tongues,
their last prayers.

 

DIRGE

              (For Nigeria)

I'm thinking about children
who die at birth;
Children who never grow
to become parents.

I'm thinking about children
whose names I will never learn
to pronounce;
children who learn to sing
a dirge at dawn.

I'm thinking about abandoned children;
children whose words are chaste, holy
like a temple, like an altar;
children who do not know why
they see blood on the streets.

I'm thinking about the images
of children that clump my head:
their postures, their laughter,
their bodies buried like wastes
in those wooden coffins.

I'm thinking about children who
die in the bomb blasts; children
who will never pray for this country.


Rasaq Malik is a graduate of University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He writes poetry. His works have been published on Nigerian dailies and online literary journals. He is presently awaiting the publication of his first poetry collection.