Partition, and Then by Faisal Mohyuddin

 

We were looking for _______ we found _______.
—Carolyn Forché

The night is an empty basket, and the long journey ahead
promises to be weighed down by hunger, luminous

and wild. As they cross into the newly formed nation,
a child, cargo strapped to her mother’s back, takes the black

sheet of the sky, folds it seven times to make a horse,
then fashions wings for it knitted from thin ribbons of wind.

Inside the brick temple of her mother’s grasping heart,
a burning nest of nightjars, their feathers flecked with both

copper’s shimmer and its blue decay. Their calls are like stones
skipping across the surface of a river. Before the new day

tears open the stillness of her reveries, the girl rests her cheek
between her mother’s shoulders and rolls herself back into

the womb. Inside, the rivers of the newly broken world
flow backwards toward the Himalayas, returning first to snow,

then to cloud. At the first blue blush of dawn, the child
begins to collect the stars, loses count, begins again, and then

again, until sleep arrives and she becomes a white ember of light,
exiled from her sky. In the distance, blindfolded theologians

straddle the gash drawn by Mountbatten’s pen, holding vials
of new blood, large spoons carved from ivory, and honey.

 

FAISAL MOHYUDDIN teaches English at Highland Park High School in Illinois, is a past fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, and holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His work has appeared in RHINO, Prairie Schooner, the minnesota review, Poet Lore, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere.