Thursday Poem: ‘Ghazal’

The wine-dark pain spills over, in my bed alone.
In nighttime stillness is my heart beset alone.

Why did you make me this way, why did you make me?
O God, why did you make the world, thus left alone?

My lone soul that aches for others’ nearness,
Why not make me like you, and be glad alone?

My forebears made us for company in sorrow.
You, motherless, childless, cannot beget, alone.

Why was I born from another’s pain? A mother’s
body, carried me—but suffered and bled alone.

To what do I owe the tormenting of this heart,
A solitary drum that beats “not-dead,” alone.

What do I owe you, thus born into this sorrow,
Are we all bound to you in debt, alone?

I was anointed “shame” ere having seen the light.
Why give me to the world, naked, blood-clad, alone?

Why must we plod and sweat and toil to till the earth?
Answer me, Lord; we cannot live from bread alone.

We were abandoned, then commanded to find you.
Why send us prophets to die in your stead, alone?

I’ll renounce you too, God, unveiled, unfettered, I
sing, birdlike, free, and leave my prayers unsaid, alone.

I trace my finger ’round the mirror Pleiades.
Around me Time winds its unending thread, alone.

–by S. A.
from Rattle #84, Summer 2024
Tribute to the Ghazal

S. A.: “As a multilingual poet growing up speaking Arabic, I’ve always been fascinated by classical Arabic poetry, and how these poems and poetic forms can be read, appreciated, contrasted, reworked, reflected, and reimagined. I wanted to see if the ghazal form could work as well in English as it would with the mellifluous, dense imagery of the Arabic language. I wanted to evoke many of the same images, phrases, and ideas that show up in ancient Arabic, Persian, and Urdu ghazals, and this decidedly heretical ghazal is still grappling with the same themes of love, loss, and god.”