TARIQ LATIF has three poetry collections all published by Arc. His latest The Punjabi Weddings was published in 2007. His most recent publication is the pamphlet Smithereens which is shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald memorial prize and was published by Arc in 2015. Tariq lives in Argyll and loves rambling around the Highlands.
ELENI CAY is a Slovakian-born poet living in Manchester, UK. Her poems were published in two pamphlets –Colours of the Swan and Autumn Dedications-and featured in MK Calling 2013 & 2015, anthologies (e.g., Mother’s Milk); poetry magazines (e.g., Envoi, Atticus Review) and as the ‘best poetry videos on the web’ (Moving Poems). Eleni is currently studying the MA Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her collection A butterfly trembling in the digital age is due from Parthian Books in summer 2017. Website: www.eleni-cay.com and Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/elenicay
There is a particular soft bone
in the shoulder of a lamb that is edible.
My uncle gave it to my mum, after
he had licked it clean of all
the meat and spice. My mother,
who had slaved to cook that meal,
ate it with bitterness. She gave me
some lamb fat, which was my share.
That was in Lahore. I think I was six.
Skinny, under nourished and sick.
I remember months later at my Aunt’s house
although I was full, my hungry eyes
made me delirious from looking at all
the plates that were heaped with tandoori chicken,
steaming sagh goshth with spiced plou rice,
limitless nan bread and huge silver dishes
full of sweet yellow rice with almonds and raisins.
That wedding feast was paradise.
I heard the clank and creak of wooden wheels
turning through the dry ruts on a dirt track;
my cousin’s earthy voice over the peals
of brass bells; a whip slapping a bull’s back
and my aunt’s chatter, bright as a sparrow’s
among her children, harvesting the black
rice. I felt their warmth drift in my marrow
as we conversed and then I felt the lack
in our shared lives, lived continents apart.
The exile’s lament for family, friends
and home filled me with longing. My old heart
ached but I talked on as one who pretends
that all is well and will always be well
if we never speak of our private hell.
Inside the innocent poppy heads
there are billions of small black bullets.
Their unrequited kisses
leave empty spaces in-between the wild rye.
It doesn’t matter how many you hurt in the combat.
The fleeting sunset does it every evening to the sky.
What unites us is the red blood,
setting out from the heart.
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