How Long Will It Take Until the Pickles Ferment?
When it rains,
think of their pickles—
the paramour of Indian terraces,
sealed in glass jars—romance the sun—ferment steadily,
oh, the Mistress’s infidel pickles!
when it rains,
women here wail:
Bring shade to the pickles,
Moisture is anathema, Moisture is a curse!
when the sun is out,
women here sing:
Let the pickles out, light is here,
Let the pickles out, warmth has flowed in!
in the absence of both,
wait, pluck their hair.
wait, scrape their skin,
wait, gorge out their eyes,
wait, patiently, wait, longingly, wait, madly, wait—
when it rains,
the madwomen here
can only think of their
The Green One,
“The absurdity of your liminal being—is it but a threshold?
a season of waiting? a brief Autumn, before winter arrives?”
Now, A Wave in the Sea,
“Which of your Lord’s wonders would you deny? peel all your layers &
before anything, you are I—I am, I was, I will be, I could be, I have been, I am me, I am a name, I am a date, I am a land, I am a colour, I am tears, I am a moment, I am a year. I am what came before, I am what comes after—I am; I am.”
Now, A Sound Through the Night,
“A pause births a thought, a thought grows inwards—becomes a womb,
grows outwards—becomes a light—consumes both worlds of transcendence and immanence—becomes a contradiction—becomes a poem.”
Now, A Boy Selling Pinwheels,
“You want to buy the breeze? here, I will trade a moment for your longing. Or better, let’s gamble—
you wait for the wind, and I will sell you a promise?”
Now, A Madman,
“O Magpies, all the lustre you hoarded, where is it now?
You are all that you have stolen, who are you now?
Memory expires, for how long will you memorize your sane ways?
O Magpies, Go Insane, Go Insane, Go Insane—before Autumn ends.”
1. Al-Khizr, or The Green One, is known by multiple names in different cultures, is a highly revered and mysterious figure, particularly in Sufism. He is known to be immortal, one who imparts secret knowledge, one who is Singularity personified, he is known to exist in all time periods, in various forms, he is known to be a metaphor for our inner complexities. It is said that he roams on this land, helps all those who need it. You could see him and yet not know. In this poem, I imagine all the things he could say in the various forms he is capable of taking.
2. ‘Which of your Lord’s wonders would you deny’—the refrain that occurs in surah Ar-Rahman (The Merciful) in the Quran.
Tasneem Khan is a student from Lucknow. Her work has appeared in nether Quarterly, Monograph Magazine and The Woman Inc.