Five Poems from Blood Everywhere

By Zafir Setu

Translated from Bengali by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam




When we stood by the bank of the Indus

it was noon,

a herd of sheep went past.

We cuddled them

offering some cheap fruits,

and then entered

the secret treasure of the Indus—

the people of the valley call it love.





I said: the Indus, Let me wake up

beside your midriff.

The Indus turned and smiled

and said—

I don’t let in a stranger,

I embrace a lover!

Kissing on its thighs

I countered—

See I’m your first love!





Is Indus a river?

To me it seems a hustler.

Whenever I touched its secret body

I felt warmth of a mother’s womb.

Like many others I was born

from a light warm womb of the Indus

having the taste of life too.





A basrai rose called me

to get close to it and said—

see my skin colour,

in your country, you won’t find anyone like me!

Know that they buried me in a mass grave

but I’ve come right back!





In the beginning they were greedy

for our land,

then they thought they had rights

to our beautiful and tall girls!

Since then our girls are insecure

even in their own homes.



Zafir Setu, Associate Professor of Bengali literature at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh, is a poet and fiction writer. He has authored more than twenty books of poetry, short story, novel, and essay. Blood Everywhere, originally Tinvag Rokto, is his recent poetry collection.

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, poetry editor of Reckoning, is the author of two poetry collections, most recently Inner State (Daily Star Books, 2020), and the translator of Humayun Ahmed: Selected Short Stories and Aphorisms of Humayun Azad. His poetry and translations have appeared in Journal of Postcolonial WritingPoem: International English Language QuarterlyCritical SurveyMassachusetts Review, ReckoningDiburLunch Ticket, and elsewhere. Currently he is at work on his third collection of poetry and a few translation projects. He teaches English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.shafiq



Photography by Michael Demanti

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