Forest Fire

by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

handwritten Urdu text by the author, early 1980's: *page 1*; *page 2*

Sun-diamonds glitter on brown-green earth
The dark of branches is dimly dappled
bright daggers, hanging free.
Sallow light, greenish like old copper bowls
branches tremble faintly.
On the crackling rustling floor
of dry leaves, twelve-horned feet glide

Keep walking, right through, up to the dense
far-off darkness.  Up above
trees twined in loving embrace, shady
ochre leaves, an imperial canopy.
Down below, the ground stretches away
for a dance of sparks.

Tight on his golden body, stripes of shadow
wrinkled face and forehead
A mountainous head resting
on huge paws--spears of
uncontrolled lightning, watching

A slender rising neck
beauty's childlike arrogance
red-brown body, a sky
dotted with casual stars,
A mountainous head, fangs of murderous light
crouching, waiting

And yet the jungle gleams.

[jangal damaktaa hai]
translated by the author

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