You’re Where You’ve Always Been

Cigarette
earlier touching my lips
now floats in the Thames
Does the river know
the feel of such a touch?
Touches are never forgotten.
In the midst of chilly, gusting winds
standing before a poster of Marilyn Monroe
Unbidden I salute her beauty.
Beauty mustn’t die.
Beauty must abide for all time.
But no—
I see the young man coming along
Eyes slip away from the poster
to behold beauty in motion.
If
Time hadn’t propelled me so far forward
I would have kissed you.
I light a cigarette
and drop it in the Thames
so the river might extinguish it.
The last of the cigarette-gone-dead bobs
as though smiling at me saying:
You’re where you’ve always been.
Time—
Look! it stands behind you.


Translation of  “Tum Vahin Ho.” From Hairat Ke Us Par [The Far Side of Wonder] (Karachi: Scheherazade, 2006). Copyright Azra Abbas. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 by M U Memon. All rights reserved.