Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Poetry: Bushra Rehman

Bushra Rehman is from Queens. NUFF SAID.

Will Heaven look like Zeenat Aman?

My mother used to tape indian movies
illegally all day long
there'd be three or four movies going
two VCRs whirring
getting all technologically horny
with the high-pitched songs
of the young female stars
the lucky ones
who got to dance with Amitabh
Their bodies would be bursting out of their saris
their lips would be all moist and warm
but untouched
and Amitabh would be there all funny
funny with his long long body
and his eyes brown and warm
My mother used to tape Indian movies
illegally all day long
there'd be three or four movies going
two VCRs whirring
their frequencies all turned on
by that subtle pre-orgasmic flurrying
that filled every love sick song
And it filled me
so that even as a child
loving and kissing
were in my dreams
and I could never quite walk
from point A to point B
But would instead jump and bounce
humming something about eyes
looking like oceans or the sea in a storm
And at night before going to sleep
I'd think about the kids
who went to kindergarten with me
and imagine all sorts of adventures
all sorts of dances and songs
But my mother, she's different now
she faces Mecca, not Namak Halal
and although she's still singing
verses from the Quran
It's not the same
there isn't any kind of tingling
in my feet or in my gut
When I go home, I wrap my dupatta around me
my mother hugs me in-between prayers
she doesn't get off her janamaz
But I remember her being different
I remember her smiling or angry
but always something
at least something
that felt like lightning in a storm
That was her before. Now
she's like a volcano rumbling
as she sits there reading namaz
And I wonder if when her spirit passes
when her souls starts and leaves her body
and she goes to that place she'd rather be
Will Muhammed look like Amitabh
or will heaven look like Zeenat Aman?

Corona, Queens

Fitzgerald called Corona the valley of ashes
when the Great Gatsby drove past it, but
we didn’t know about any valley of ashes
because by then it had been topped off by our houses,
the kind made from brick this tan color,
no self-respecting brick would be at all.

We knew Corona,
home of World’s Fair relics
where it felt as if some ancient tribe
of white people had lived there long ago.
It was our own Stonehenge,
our own Easter Island sculptures
made from a time when New York City
and all the country was imagining the world’s future.

Back when the future still seemed exciting and glossy,
like some kind of old stainless steel science fiction movie,
not now when the future seems like the inside of a dark coat sleeve.

We knew Corona,
under the shadow of Shea Stadium
where brown men became famous
and moved to Long Island
where our brothers played baseball
in the tar school yards on the weekends.

Back then, our brothers’ futures
were so open and they were so close,
they all dreamed the same dream together.
That with the crack of a bat
and the pull of their skinny brown legs
they could run away from the smell of garbage,
the fear on the streets,
the boys beating them up
when they came out of the masjid in the evening.

They could hit with that bat
and it would land them
all the way into the safety of Shea Stadium
and then past that,
into the island that was long and rich
where all the baseball stars lived.

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