Punjaban in Calvin Klein / Naima Rashid

Was that a pout
as you hang the jeans
back? That bowed head,
were you thinking, “I’ll never
fit into these.”

Why do you care if your contours
defy the rigid geometry
of borrowed wear? Why do you need
to flatten your curves
to fit into miniature grids?

Those thighs weren’t made
for the clickety click of pencil heels
through narrow cobblestone streets,
the harried beat of cities on steroids;
they were meant for lush green fields
they were meant for free-spirited runs
through fields of mango trees.
Your soles kiss the soil
with a settler’s timeless pride,
full force and gentle
in the primal touch
of dust with dust
every clap a salutation
every step an act of salam.
You roam the earth as if
all of it was your sacred turf
ancestral playground

Your fullness is an arc drawn back to your ancestors,
a live lived to the simple and visible
labour sowed and bounty reaped
cycle of four seasons

Don’t starve your spirit
to fit a preset frame. You were meant
for other scales; not for you sipping tea
with puckered lips, holding teacups
at slippery fulcrums
of narrow-arched handles,
right-hand pinky stretched.

Your manna came straight
from the udder. You drank molten silver
as white as October clouds, pure as angel’s heart,
with froth as pearly as
waterfall’s drop.
You drank by the generous gulp,
not the calculated sip, your wide-rimmed copper glass
cool
as the shade of trees on your head
cool
as the soil beneath your feet.

Not for you prudish talk
webs of malice and urban deceit;
pure-hearted one, you only know
how to say things as they are;
the truth in your heart
spilling straight from your mouth
before your mind can know.


Naima Rashid is a UK-based writer, poet and translator. Her first book was ‘Defiance of the Rose’ (Oxford University Press, 2019). Her forthcoming works include a translation of ‘Naulkahi Kothi’ by Ali Akbar Natiq (Penguin Random House India, 2022), and her own fiction and poetry. Her works and views have been widely published in journals of repute including Poetry Birmingham, Asymptote, The Scores, PEN Transmissions, Lucy Writers’ Platform and Wild Court, among others. She was long-listed for the National Poetry Competition 2019, and is a collaborator with the UK-based translation collective, Shadow Heroes. She runs a London-based marketing and written communications consultancy by the name of ContentBud, helping businesses humanize their storytelling.

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