By Zakia R. Khwaja



Lemon sunshine and beyond high

open-mesh fences, mustard blooms

till the horizon.


The driver must stop the bus.




Six university friends and I pounce

off the top railing into the thick

spread of chick-down petals, leaving

impressions like body chalk drawings


on a field of yolk-tipped stalks.




Armpits full of sarson, we deer-

leap towards each other in slow

motion, imagining Bollywood

reunions of separated lovers.


The girls tuck mustard sprigs

behind their ears that years later,

will waft up to them

from the pages of a book.


The boys thrust them through buttonholes.




Sunlight strikes off the arcing

scythe. A turban breaks

through the froth of sarson:


The farmer is upon us.




Blossoms and leaves

catch at us as we whoop towards

the fence. Out in the lane,

we shed a golden trail of petals.


The pollen rubbed into our jeans

never washes out.


Zakia’s poetry focuses on subcontinental culture as well as socio-political issues. Her work has appeared in the award-winning Grey Sparrow Journal, and other publications such as the Alabama Literary Review, Pearl, Controlled Burn, Ellipsis and the English publication of the Pakistan Academy of Letters. Zakia was accepted to participate in the Yale Writers’ Conference 2014. Recently, her work was showcased by the South Asian Free Media Association and the Islamabad Cultural Forum.

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