Poetry: Rahana K. Ismail

Rahana K. Ismail
Morning in Shapes of Languid Disinclination

She messages, at Koyilandi. I picture dust, 
bus swerving, sign boards, Malayalam 
though she may have taken her car. 
I don’t ask my other friend why 
she is playing truant too. I was set to go. 
Had my clothes ironed. Had boiled 
water enough to last the whole day. Had 
thought of shoe-shopping after the gym. They word
           tomorrow in sistered echoes 
               that cave me in. 
to be stuffed with our sounds—
                            our languorous sistering 
picking at 
                and unspooling tomorrows’ 
                               yarn sacks 
            that we hide 
                   our tomorrow-selves 


A nibble of sun 
on the wall. 
Near, trussed bodies 
of my doubt, & darkness. 
Show me how
         they room in 
this whiteness together, 
how they won’t collide, 
& despite my relentless 
dreaming, cancel.


Beaded curtain my hesitant hand parts. A room with indefatiguable geometry. Something sharper than incense yet doesn’t slacken to death. Disarray broomed to unplaceable cobwebs. White walls in a house teeming with crayons, child-hands. Ceiling fan: lone spider on the plain washed ceiling. Teak bed housing all his bones; spilling most of the marrow. Catheter snoozing like a sated stream. His openable eye holds a primal map, shells dead on the curtain marking unskirtable mountains falling sheer.

Mothering a Daughter

You have to make a choice 
                                    between you and a younger you
before morning-mists clump coffee into granite

as the TV chef instructs you. 
                                                          Look at her now: 
she will open the door with bronze and let you in. 
She will talk about snails, gift you gravel.

                                     But on the street they say coffee clumps 
as a rule. I am imagining a giant coffee jar the size of our thoughts. 
We buy spoons to scrape at a corner. We get keener 
edged in imprudence, at times in desperation. Or life-size 

                                       hammers pound at us to break off 
a piece that turns out too much or far little for what we’re planning. 
It’s pitch bitter or water on the tongue. Pouring hot water 
into the jar burns us, turns us into marshes that steadily flows 
into inclinations we are tilted into.

Rahana K. Ismail is the author of the chapbook ‘Newtness’ released by Yavanika Press in 2022. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, Penn Review, Usawa Literary Review, POSIT, Alchemy Spoon, nether Quarterly, Contemporary Haibun OnlineAainanagar, Aleph Review, Chakkar, Alipore Post, Last Leaves, Io Literary Journal (Refractions), Paradoxlit, Farmer-ish, Stone of Madness, Foxglove, Hakara, Qissa, Verse of Silence, Pine Cone Review, among others.


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