‘The two petals of selfhood’ by Afshan Shafi


They justified this war.

they justified the fathomless

amongst paper tulips

and stars made of glue, ink and real hugs.

Beyond this the world utters one silver sentence

an hour.

Beyond the woodcuts of us, the catty and lurid

assertion of us,

a god of sturdy pearl and grain,

extracts the other pierced with roses.

The smaller girl, is infuriated and Russian,

she breaks of her powdery ankles and

repents without plea or shudder.

The taller one, more desirous of beauty,

in the world of sun and smoke

blows her sister’s small promise of persistence

off her fingers and into the hunting air.

‘Each evening the world is a small

avalanche of birds’



Her whole body a lattice,

see how the mud flowers through her,

see her eyes , those knotted porcelain buds,

pretend slumber when the other saunters in.

you can be sure she’s darkly armed ,

the honey nails and knees of her ,

occluding more than sentiment, ballad,

or blister

she ‘s more than a kitty on fire

she’s extracting hearts from

their cages of lace.

‘Each evening the world is a dome of sleet

from which black panthers drink’


Where one waits for a violent interregnum

with her chin in her hands,

the other paints a vintage chrysanthemum

in acrylic mauve.

where one speaks to ghosts in the early morning,

the other prays for a teal and diamond dew

where one glistens with roaring acidic anxiety,

the others leans back into luminous curved solace.

It would not change things

if sometimes the two were affable,

the taller more pneumatic one,

would still mourn her drowsy lyric and dusty home,

the little fauvist,

would wish her blue roses , more heat

her October ribcage, more love.

‘Each evening the world is a sheet of music,

the poets song; a corroded Cantonese’

Afshan ShafiPoet’s Bio: Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore, Pakistan and has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Regent’s University London. Her poems have appeared in 3am magazine, ditch, Full of Crow, The Toucan, Mad Swirl, Visual verse, Black heart magazine and others. Her debut collection of poems ‘Odd Circles’ was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. She is the editor of the forthcoming Abbreviate Journal.

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