The Old City | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 10, 2018


The Old City

Here are the steps leading down to the lake

choked with water hyacinths crowding

out the lilies, and algae thick as serum.

There is the rusted tube-well that once

drank deep from the earth's waters,

its handle cranked like a question mark.

A donkey twitches its ears on the dust path

and vendors hawk their wares—hair bands,

hairpins, scarves, bangles, and nail polish.

We have been here before, in this old town

called the city of gold, of muslin spun so fine

that a six-yard sari could pass through a ring.

We have walked among the arched doorways,

the crumbling colonial walls, the moss, mud,

and lichen, the peanuts, popcorn, and candy-floss.

Somewhere nearby, a path leads to the shrine

of some local saint. People pray for answers,

for miracles. They leave garlands of flowers.

We have asked about the eternal pantomime,

about our part among these actors and props.

But no answer came, and we expected none.

Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University. This poem is from her book Not Elegy, But Eros, published by NYQ Books (US) and Bengal Lights Books (Bangladesh).

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