For Farkhonda and Bina
Laughter, music, voices singing verses can be heard outside the door.
The little girl is memorising every word outside the door.
Light in the stairwell, seen through the judas-hole:
is that the visitor you longed for or you feared outside the door?
Long hours in lamplight practising his scales,
in counterpoint to solfège of a bird outside the door.
The diplomat entering the leader’s office
forgets the Copt, the communist, the Kurd outside the door.
Praise for the leader, loyalty till death!
Another imprecation is whispered outside the door.
The first love left, the second packs her bags.
Are those the nervous footsteps of the third outside the door ?
Self is a mirror, poster-colour bright,
but notice how the colours become blurred outside the door.
The revolutionaries’ nameless laundress
wonders ‘What happens to a dream deferred ?’ outside the door.
The moment’s motion blurs the pose you hold for it
as if you knew what future were foretold for it.
Is there a course in loss and cutting losses,
and what ought I to do to be enrolled for it?
I could walk to the canal and watch the barges
from the footbridge, but this morning it’s too cold for it.
However the diplomat flattered the dictator
or threatened him, ten prisoners were paroled for it.
Who wants to push poems on reluctant readers?
Keep them in notebooks, wait to be cajoled for it.
A lover’s hand reaches for the beloved’s
hand, as yours would too. Are you too old for it?
Yâ ‘ainy, if revolution shakes your stupor
awake, open your eyes, your arms, be bold for it!