Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Self-portrait with Jinn

The balcony, in partial sun, faces
the history of refugee time.

We hang in a birdcage,
Jinn and I,
stranded in the steel thin dream
of an insomniac. The Universe: stainless,
all open eyes and empty cup.

I, in Andalusi stripes, connecting
dots in caramelized books, catching 
tremors of the reed flute—
Jinn, in the form of a voluble parrot,
stealing my tassel threads
to make yards and yards
of prose.

There is no one to rescue us
from our obsessions.
The world looks on from below—
a cat with its paw lifted
waiting for a wind
and an open door.

Shadab Zeest Hashmi's Baker of Tarifa, a book based on the history of interfaith tolerance in Al Andalus (Muslim Spain), won the 2011 San Diego Book Award for poetry. Her poems have been translated into Spanish and Urdu and have appeared in Poetry International, Vallum, Nimrod, The Bitter Oleander, The Cortland Review, The Adirondack Review, Hubbub, RHINO, Journal of Postcolonial Writings, Spillway and other places. She represents Pakistan on UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry, and has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence. She is a guest columnist for 3 Quarks Daily. Kohl and Chalk is her new book of poems.