person Adeeba Shahid Talukder, three poems

Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, singer, and translator of Urdu and Persian poetry. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018) and her book Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, forthcoming through Tupelo Press, is a winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Poem-A-Day, Gulf Coast, Meridian, The Margins, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net finalist and a Pushcart nominee, Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and is a Poets House 2017 Emerging Poets Fellow.


To Heaven

Wrap a fence around your dream of white.

Walk a cord thin as a hair.

Splinter the sun, wake all its ashes.



Eighteen yards of bleached white
cloth, stiff with starch.
Cafan, zenana
said the plastic in hurried script.

When anyone spoke to her
that day, her responses were quick,
as though her mind flashed again

and again. I was never this clever,
she said in alarm, something must be
wrong. Take me to the emergency room.
A day ago, a neighborhood boy
had died in his sleep.

That night, she’d woken up
shrieking. They had held her
too hard, pressed
her arms to the bone.

Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved


Farhad the Mountain Carver

He swept all magic from her windows, closed the blinds so the crows would not come in. Wove her stories to cloak his hideous face. Gave her roses in the winter, crimson with a nightingale’s blood.

                          The footprints in the lake stretched
                          to the other side, with no hint of water.
                          You reached for my hands,
                          watched my breath stop.

Shireen wore a ring, lived deep in the mountains. Her king was away at war for months. Farhad, he told himself, it is time to carve channels of milk into stone.

                          Tilt your head, you told me.
                          In the darkness I learned: the ice
                          in the grass blades
                          could look like stars.

As evening fell he beat his drum so hard his cheeks flushed. I own you, she told him. He knew. That night he cut a lock of her hair, dyed it purple as she slept.

Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved



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