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You tore into our land
a crooked line.
That morning
we learned: the dawn
had been bitten by moths,
flying in droves, in madness
towards light. Unsure of the nature
of light, they had consumed

From above, we saw only
a silver abyss, one mile long,
either side plunged
in darkness—
the darkness of night, the darkness
of ash. We searched, sifting
the soil but found nothing.

We left, trying to preserve
at least memory. Our language,
like us, had no land.

~ ~

I say to a small boat
in black waters, alone
in infinity:

Whose pulse do you hold?
And what quivering
waters hold you?

Which direction
have you found forward?
What has lived in your past?

The wood darkens
with the night, until all
that is left is its silhouette.

There are no answers.
The air is empty, with nothing
to grasp.
In the distance, the horizon trembles
like a heartbeat.

~ ~

Tell them:
I have seen skin crushed
to a pulp, dead,
transparent as paper.
I have seen whole minds
turn to ash.
I have seen more water
than I understand,
seen humans claim
all light.

And some nights, I swear
it is so dark
even God cannot see us.

Adeeba Talukder
An ekphrastic poem after the Zarina: Dark Roads exhibit.
Image: Flag of Independence 1947 by Jimmy Engineer