The Old City

By NAUSHEEN EUSUF

Here are the steps leading down to the lake
choked with water hyacinths crowding
out the lilies, and algae thick as serum.

There is the rusted tube-well that once
drank deep from the earth’s waters,
its handle cranked like a question mark.

A donkey twitches its ears on the dust path
and vendors hawk their wares—hair bands,
hairpins, scarves, bangles, and nail polish.

We have been here before, in this old town
called the city of gold, of muslin spun so fine
that a six-yard sari could pass through a ring.

We have walked among the arched doorways,
the crumbling colonial walls, the moss, mud,
and lichen, the peanuts, popcorn, and candy-floss.

Somewhere nearby, a path leads to the shrine
of some local saint. People pray for answers,
for miracles. They leave garlands of flowers.

We have asked about the eternal pantomime,
about our part among these actors and props.
But no answer came, and we expected none.

 

Nausheen Eusuf is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Scholar, PN Review, Southwest Review, Salmagundi, Literary Imagination, and other journals. Her first full-length collection, titled Not Elegy, But Eros, is forthcoming from NYQ Books.

 

[Purchase Issue 14 here]

Madeline RuoffThe Old City

Related Posts

vintage photo of father

Ode to my Father

DENISE DUHAMEL
Man of beer and doughnuts, man of wieners and maple syrup, / sweet-toothed man, man of the one-liner, / man of drum sets and baseball bats and other boys’ toys / he bought his daughters so that he would know / how to play with them.

2017 heading

The Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2017

It seems only fitting to give one last nod to the fantastic pieces that we brought out in 2017. Below is a list of our most-read pieces of the year: the poems, essays, interviews, and art that made 2017 our biggest year yet for web traffic from around the world! We hope you'll have a look, if you haven't already, and see why this work struck a chord with readers this year.

The Common logo (black box) in between POETRY and FEATURE, in white print on a light green background

December 2017 Poetry Feature

ALBERTO de LACERDA
To see you is to stay and remain, / To see you is finally to see; / I open my veins to life / As if an exceptional body / Desired my blood. / I discover everything in you. / You look in my eyes: you are / The liquid filling / The bridges of heaven and earth. / To see you is to forget fear, / To speak and not see the divisions / Words create. / To see you is to be a forest.