Rose & Cotton

Poem By Ishrat Afreen

Gold bodies,
the girls toiling in the fields,
turned grey in the summer heat

At night sheathed in dew and frost,
at noon in the burning sun

These girls are different,
more beautiful
than the girls on the marble bench
whose heads are decked with jasmine buds,
who chew on roses
and go crazy when they see hot colors

The girls harvesting the sun in the field
stand at the threshold of a new life
- just like those other girls -
but their eyes have never sought out mirrors;
these girls don't know the warmth of roses
or a perfume's burning touch

Their clothes only reek of mustard greens,
their eyes have teh gleam of cotton bolls.

[Translated by Professor C M Naim]

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