you are in the diode archives winter 2010




Cloaked in
back erect
a canopied-life,

cadaverous shade shelters
your mute, limp braids
and white-gloved hands,

    bleached anemic,
eyes blind
    to the blue-cracked sea
    a salt-blemished sand,

a box-wrapped life
    floats away
on bands of stolid indigo;
    a tessellated sky
sweeps silence to shore;

and you,
    blind, mute you,
shielded from
    the striations
of a jaundiced sand,
    a turbid ochre,
        a toneless puce,
           a sallow woman’s life,

blind, mute you,
    like an oculist,
    you see
some other
    woman’s life—
not your reality—
    you see

it packed in a blanched box,
beyond the froth-spit sand,
over a murky cerulean sea,

you see
    that life
over there
    floating aromatic,
sinking leaden

into kohl-blue depths
    of law-abiding deference,
        dutiful submission,
           servile revulsion;

but here,
    here where you sit
    by purple shadows,
    in aubergine denial,
your white-gloved
and vacant, mute
will speak,
from the safety
    of your canvas,
will speak,
    and the world
will hear
    your glassy, retractable
moan for freedom,
    your crude gasp
for air, and,
    like a tendon snapping:

your voice.


Chiseled Linen

you’ve been silenced for resilience earned,
feminine power scorned, chilled, carved
into marmoreal heritage—broom intact—
washed linen sullied by the stench
of rotting petroglyphs hidden in wadis;

roots gnarled into dusty marble,
dull as the dugong your mariner ancestors
scooped in days that used to glow
like phytoplankton in the mesmerizing
dark waters of the Arabian Gulf;

gone are the groupers and pomfrets—
slimy, silvery-gray—gone the prickly cockle,
the blue sea-star, Queen Sheba’s hoopoe
swishing magic over the dhow-crowded sea;

scorned and silenced for your resilience,
sorceress, incised pride fit together
like past potsherds, seared into place by
the inept hairy hands of intelligentsia
and eggheads alike, smelted down,
then sculpted into a grainy, shellacked
stone frieze of a woman, sea-salt garnished;

like a peppery furrow shell
hanging a blue-striped ormer,
amputated, yet unrelenting,
you continue to hang linen;
voiceless, still you scream;
vision ruptured by years of
a binding veil, still you see

that inculcated injustice,
that mandatory cremation
of rights and dignity,
somehow you see, sorceress,
that there is a way to be free.


Rosewater in the Boudoir

Bulbul warbles
    tinder notes
on a windowsill

catches fire

cleaves through
    heat-heavy air
like tin foil
    slicing moist-hot
cotton balls


    amber essence
burnt in a

waiting for
    as your
wife waits
    for you


Dr. Shurooq Amin is an Anglophone poet, a contemporary artist, and a professor at Kuwait University. Her paintings can be found in numerous places, including the Bayan Palace/Amiri Diwan (Kuwait), the Museum of Modern Art (Kuwait), Al-Derwaza VIP Lounge at Kuwait Airport, and in many private collections. She is author of Kuwaiti Butterfly Unveiled (Minerva Press, 1997) and The Hanging of the Wind (Finishing Line Press, 2009).  Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and are forthcoming in Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry (Garnet Publishing & Ithaca Press).