Night Falls with a Broken Wing

by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

*handwritten Urdu text by the author, early 1980's*

We know you others won't come back again.
Even our clouded eyes can see the tigers, far off
sometimes unmoving, sometimes rippling like waves.
You promise to bring back rank upon rank of troops.
You swear to protect us helpless useless wounded.
You see (beyond the horizon!) waves of victory running high.
Night falls with a broken wing.

The earth here, catching the scent of blood,
opens gaping jaws like a crocodile.
Some of your blood is here, and plenty of ours of course.
Are you deaf--surely you hear that terrible yawn?
You deal in fancy gardens, you flourish paper flowers.
You run from those glowing red-lit eyes--
our shattered bodies are destined for those eyes.
Stand back a bit and you'll see: night buys us for peanuts.
Night falls with a broken wing.

They're just waiting for you to go. The next moment
tigers, wolves, dogs will surround us
with grinning jaws, crunchy smiles.
Somewhere beyond the horizon, unmoving, hooked beaks, cold eyes,
long necks, claws crusted with filth--
up in the trees, hearing the jaws crunching
our breaking bodies, dark murky wings will flap.
How far away will you be then--
horses running with the wind?
Night falls with a broken wing.

[namuud-e par-shikastah shab]
translated by Frances W. Pritchett 
 -- S. R. Faruqi index page -- FWP's main page --