Still Life

——Reza Shirazi

The sadhu rises with the morning
to perform his ablutions,
dawn glinting at the edge of the river.

The station bustles to life:
Hawkers set up their stands,
beggars take up their posts,
the chai-boy scampers from customer to customer,
carrying milky tea in chipped glasses;
the station master, with two tattered flags
and a prosperous paunch,
burps as he steps out onto the platform:
the 8:30 Shatabdi Express
the 9:42 Frontier Mail
the 10:11 Amritsar Express
Each train lumbers in,
brakes screeching,
raising a cloud of dust, noise, motion;
then chugs out, hooting,
and the station settles again.

The mangy street dogs
search for scraps of shade
in the noon-time blaze.
The child lies in bed by her mother
through the long afternoon,
a fan stirring the soupy air.

Evening brings the chai-boy
scampering down the main road
disappearing into the brightly lit
jewelry and cloth shops filled with haggling customers.

The village sinks lethargically into dusk:
monkeys scuttle over rooftops,
scaring pigeons into flight.

Night falls.
Moonlight slides into the room.
An off-tune chorus of crickets
drowns out the snores and wheezes of deep sleep.

Biographical Information

Reza Shirazi was born and raised in Bombay, India and is Iranian by origin. He earned a Bachelors in Business and English Literature at the University of Kansas and an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. His poetry is infused with his mixed cultural background and experiences. He has been published in a number of journals including Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Texas Observer, Coal City Review, Midwest Poetry Review, and Potato Eyes. He is included in two anthologies edited by Naomi Shihab Nye: The Space Between My Footsteps and What Have You Lost? and, most recently, in A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian Americans edited by Persis Karim. Says Shirazi, “I enjoy writing poems where I’m conveying the cultures that I’ve lived in: India and Iran. It is practice for me to connect back with where I was, to understand what I’ve experienced there. I enjoy sharing that.”

Still Life
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