Silver Branch series~
Z. R. Ghani
Z. R. Ghani is a ‘Best of the Net’-nominated poet from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Zaina's poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Black Bough Poetry, The Willowherb Review, Square Wheel Press, Bind Collective, Hazel Press, and The Adriatic.
Aside from poetry, she enjoys experimenting with textiles, drawing and painting, and writing prose.
The Pink Mosque
From the indulgent whispers of old men,
she makes a name for herself.
are early in her gardens.
The men seek love-notes in her tulips
and leave every flower disrobed.
And the Mughals courted in her quarters,
where the windows are hued like sweetened syrups,
where the sunset is seen to fade her opulence,
and leaves her bashful in the moonless quiet.
All girls must sup with God one day,
when He’ll give us our pomegranate.
No plate, no cutlery,
we’ll untie the linen,
break past the indignant crust of fate.
Mother, I think of your fruit,
those tiny cherubs where seeds,
droplets of blood, should’ve been.
They didn’t choir for your milk,
nor grimace as they met light,
but moon-faced, stiff, swaddled
in the silence you left exposed.
The scent of apples
in the air
A dream unlocked by death;
a seedling in the cosmos.
She, on the other hand,
dances like moths
in the trees of Orcus.
Isn’t fear secretly
a kind of indulgence?
This is what I know.
That I chased the image of a ghost
till I dissolved a misty embrace,
till I interrupted the water’s calm,
till I waded through light,
till I was soaked in skies,
knee-deep before I knew it.
The cold morning was its totem.
Then the clouds unravelled the sun;
resisting oblivion, a weightless white
dimmed the world as it rose.
Roses, white as weddings,
Not for too long.
Hades at the End of Summer
I think of her as one of Klimt’s women,
thinner than a willow tree, performing ablutions by a river
shaped like an arm reaching out for an apple.
Heart of scintillating youth, it floods its red,
swelling the roots of the underworld.
She will shade over me
and find me dreaming of her.
A flurry of vows, so lips,
a sign of moonlight, so eyes,
an end to abstinence, so we kiss.
Although she’s dead,
he’s wrapped her tepid
in a cosmos of morning
eyes, wrenched her up
like a skeletal easel
prizing new evils.
She does nothing
but blush, savours
a resting ground
for wine-stained lips,
beds daisies in her hair,
lets violets pullulate
on the lion’s mane plains
of her dress.
Although she’s dead.
When I died
something fell on me that I had to catch—
It was not a loved one’s tear
but a bird’s nest, coffee-stained.
That dry smell of morning.
The sun above me was sliced in half—
I saw the latch of its core, its wardrobe.
The sun’s heartwood is a hoarder
of birds of paradise, hibiscus flowers,
and I was an unmade honeymoon bed:
heavy and demanding purpose,
when a saffron-tailed bird dived
for my release (with rubies for eyes
that splashed onto my lips,
beauteous and divine) to take
a sip of my nectar.
When you enter the mosaic alley, an orchestral aviary is illuminated. A conductor isn’t necessary; the birds know their song. Just as a musician whets the cello with fervour, so the birds dash to and fro. You wince at first as flecks of light and colour battle for occupancy on every wing. You disregard the ache that comes from bending your neck as far back as possible, for this chance won’t come again.
The clay arch, still wet, is a pebble shore of seeds, fruits, and cakes that a chaos of beaks unhook, each contributing to the alley’s slow corrosion. True, you are also a seed in the greater mosaic alley of the universe, but you’ve yet to settle. Was the alley built to disintegrate? Never mind. Although the beak of the toucan reminds you of a ripened mango, and the ribbon-tail of the astrapia is like a pair of shooting stars, you don’t appreciate the sight of these birds as much as the fleeting sensations they bring. A passage surfaces from your mind, “Birds are colours liberated from a painting of an oasis.”
Below, your ankles are buried in water and what you’ve mistaken for silver seaweeds are fish dancing under a dappled reflection of a great building. Perhaps it’s your home. Something shining far ahead keeps reaching out to you like a lighthouse. You want to cry, you want to laugh, but your body refuses; for now, you are a stream, both coming and going.
The scent of petals is in the air; the taste of salt is on your tongue. Go on ahead, the ocean is near.
Storm Inside an Atom
i wish i could see your storm / not sure why mine is visible / what do you make of it? / do i look like the slow demolition of a building? / it’s only a disaster / an ecstatic free-fall of a yin-yang-shaped pill / a storm inside an atom / wrecking lightning / it rains without clouds / invisible snowfall prods me / plays a tune with cold fingers / will everlast me / while the atom waters itself i lose nutrients / spill moans on diamond oceans / copying the rain / there’s black thunder in my body / and anticyclones hitting the wrong regions / pulsars screaming on mute / nervous as seismographs / but there are worse ways to transform / if you can’t handle inconvenient truths / don’t ask me how i’m feeling / it’s more than a transient question / i’m soaking in it / knowing eternity will pass / it’s like waiting for a night bus in an empty world / and i’m more than a body within a womb / i will bloom / from within and from without / rippling with colours / after the sun flies in / and gilds me with a look of concern.
"My work focuses on themes of self, identity, femininity, death, afterlife, and transformation. Writing is the road to self-discovery for me. Whether it’s prose or poetry, I always finish a piece of writing feeling a little changed.
Over the years I’ve realised that I have two contrasting voices: one is spiritual, nature-loving, and positive and the other is dark, gritty, and immediate. The former reflects attributes I aspire within myself and the latter reflects London life or at least my perspective of the city. I’ve tried to settle for one voice in the past but now I think they’re both equally relevant and express important aspects of myself."