seven free spirits
by Manahil Bandukwala


jaan / a pulse is everything except flesh & skin & bone / beyond
four chambers / makes blood pump / makes a money plant grow /
love / outwards & upwards

jazba / fireworks go off half an hour after midnight / we toast our
drinks / plant clumsy kisses / catch sparks / step out of our bodies
into others

maahol / light burns brightly in this house / spider plant spreads
its children to sun spots / full dinner table laughs on wobbly legs /
seen only when absent

qalandar / it does not matter if the rhythms in your head / are not
beautiful / if your hands bloom / out of time / you come into this
universe / knowing

rughbat / a tendency to want to know / the sprinkle of saltwater /
laughter of mountain pine / geometries of galaxy clusters / a
tendency to drift / like feathers or rocks / in motion

rooh / floats through nitrogen / does not breathe / mint cools the
soul / feel its presence watching over / phosphoric soil / come now
/ shed these vessels / entangle with one another

niyat / did you pray for me today / carry vertical thoughts to heaven
/ back arched over horizontal axis / the earth you kneel on /
forehead to grass / where flesh will rot when rooh roams free

—From CNQ 109: The Crime Issue (Spring/Summer 2021)

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