The Man and the River / Naima Rashid

It was a T-junction

on the bed of the snaking Ravi.

You’d park your beat Sedan here

in the yawn of night,

drag the bodies from the trunk,

trail them across the gravel,

lay them at the river’s mouth.

This river was a reluctant keeper of secrets;

it didn’t move

like a hungry beast with a belly on fire.

Its waters were sluggish brown,

bogged by centuries of flotsam.

It wouldn’t lean to devour the prey,

instead its brackish waves would approach

in a whimsical saunter,

and poke the feed

      in a calculated caress.

      I sat long past they had floated away

      and wondered —       Can men change course like rivers?

Naima Rashid is a writer and translator. Her first book, Defiance of the Rose (Oxford University Press, 2019) was a translation of selected verses by Pakistani poet Perveen Shakir from Urdu into English. Her writings have appeared in Asymptote, The Scores, Poetry at Sangam, Wild Court, and other places. She was long-listed for the National Poetry Competition 2019. She is a collaborator with the translation collective, Shadow Heroes.

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