Brides of Dust
There are rooms in Pakistan which avoid me, old stone houses
carved from exile. At night the stone transforms
and women's voices cry, their smooth skin blends
into sandstone tomb.
She wears red chillies in her hair,
walks 30 miles for water and returns
to find her children turned to dust.
The rain is an offering she has not received.
Death find places to talk to her. Her mother’s songs
are her grandmother's dreams, her daughter's nightmares.
There are flames and silence in these houses.
The sandstone women are married
to death. An old woman painted my hands
like a virgin bride while I searched her eyes for a flicker of belonging.
Three nights and two cultures I wandered
in desert lands, dreaming of sandstone women in village
houses, digging for roots, tumeric and
religion. Her head is sprinkled with water,
cleansing she passes prasaed to her daughter,
two hands, blessing. In the mirrors
of her kameez she watches
the eyes of sandstone women narrow and close.
her mother never cut her hair,
it coarse and grey. She remembers the eyes
of sandstone women. She remembers three cultures,
two nights, that roots make a difference. In her first language
she learns to say mother, in her second home. She remembers
sandstone women. In her dreams she goes home with them.
The boundaries of land shatter memory,
there is no map to lead my family
home. They travel to voices
and words become death. The colour of my roots
makes me shout. I am located in earth.
my feet have no voice. I am located in sound. I walk into language.
There are marriage rooms
in this story. She has more language
than difference. She speaks root words,
looks for rivers in the desert,
knows places to die with sandstone women. Closes her eyes.