‘Sashiko’ and other poems

Sophia Naz

2022

Introduction

‘Sooner or later everything rips’ Naz begins in ‘Sashiko’. Brokenness lies at the heart of these poems; we’re told even the swollen ‘mailbox had a miscarriage’ or ‘blood reverts/to untidy default’. But to me the most poignant of these choices is the subtitle of Naz’s ‘Body of Work’: a poem in six parts. The division into six parts, represents for me, fractures not just at the level of theme or idea, but deeper tectonic splits. The method becomes the message.

Susan Cain asserts in her hugely popular TED Talk that we listen to sad songs four times more than we listen to happy songs. Researchers have found that sad music allows listeners to transcend their own sorrows and connect to the grief of another. In The Dispossessed, Ursula LeGuin says, ‘It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love.’ Perhaps the brokenness in Naz’s suite of poems works towards a similar hope. Sashiko, which means ‘little stabs’, is the Japanese art of mending fabric. And, if you can eventually be put together so beautifully, is it worth being broken? Maybe we’ll find out in these verses.

— Pervin Saket
The Bombay Literary Magazine

Sashiko

Sooner or later everything rips
the riding hood hangs from a bramble
in Dante’s forest, lost in amorphous
morass, leak from here to there, tearing thought

Clouds in the hospital parking lot back
drop to symmetry of sheared trees. Nothing fruits
I break, blood reverts
to untidy default. This building is uneven, store-
rooms in the sky are cirrocumulus

An island is a patch
soft-red, dead child
blooming in tactile pocket, beak
stunned by illusion of clear glass

*Sashiko, little stabs
at the heart of mending
fill time but can
they repair, sow
a frayed weather?

*sashiko or “little stabs” is the Japanese art of mending fabric

 


 

Body of Work

(a poem in six parts)
i. Heart

While I was away
dirty dishes aped Mount Everest
zucchini grew monstrously inedible
while two hundred cherry tomatoes
sank into a desiccated fire
Dahlias died untimely deaths
The swollen mailbox had a miscarriage
Loud bills cried, pay me! Pay
attention, a mirage, dissolved
my skipping heart-
beat, I sank, a stone
into the marriage pit.

ii. Feet

A woman stamped her feet in the desert
and a spring came bubbling up from the hot sand
the way I imagine your touch across the passage
that separates us, a mirage, the science of heat

Why was she only a prophet’s wife and not a prophet?
I’m tired of knowing the answer to that question
The past doesn’t hold water anymore.

iii. Elbows

What if these bony right angles were
actually storm angels? I mean guardians
of flesh and blood, not zither
or lyre. Body boomerangs
on point, across a room
full of eyes & the forecast
of hands. What if these elbows made
a thunderous fuss? Made bus
both noun & reverb?

iv. Nose

Lord
Lord nose
Lord nose how
to work these words
A bridge to where
you don’t turn
up yours

v. Hands

My hands are pregnant and they birth the destiny of alphabet stars on a desert page. My pregnant hands say the night sky is white and the swiftly inked stars are black. The book of the Patriarchs warns against “The Poets” and I, a woman. She She! Danger doubling dabbling dribbling juice from that delicious peach, breach of Helios. The icebox is already empty Carlos, don’t mess with my pregnant hands, their sweetly sticky fingers.

vi. Eyes

A woman covered from head to tail with eyes in the shape of darting fishes is looking at me. A woman with nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine eyes.

All seeing hands, all seeing strands, all seeing glands.

Eat another letter, she commands, reaching into the gelatinous twilight for an almost full moon attached to a stick of stem and popping it in my mouth. It’s just like a black eyed pea.
I’m a black eyed pea! I exclaim. Yes, she smiles, yes you are, eat some more and we shall begin.


 

Scar/Abs

I had to let the tweezers go
to pry you loose. Oust the pageant
lock, Botox and tiara, there you were
femur, tibia, coral knee, paddy fields
of cilia and sebum buoyant, just beyond

My reach again, I had to unscript
an ending where the goal is the crease
of your ironed shirt pressed
into me, unending
deal, playing cards
lying in a thick dark bog, obfuscation tarot.

Most of a blue whale song, a frequency
so low it’s inaudible to human ears.
Her splendid baleen, sifting
in the lean as against the grain I throw

Up, sound out from the depths, echolocation
of self from negative space, blow
by blow, a stretch of smile-
stone to strike membrane of skin, drum
sea inside, call to cauldron.

Contributor

Sophia Naz

Pushcart Prize nominee Sophia Naz has published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her work includes the poetry collections Peripheries, Pointillism, Date Palms and Shehnaz, a biography. Open Zero, her  fourth poetry collection, was published  from Yoda Press in September 2021.  Her website is www.SophiaNaz.com

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