by Hibah Shabkhez
Heron of sorrow, officer of the plague and traitor of the eclipse, a king made a vow on you to wage war; and since then, you have become guardian of the ruins of the world. Like you, the humble daal mung, oft-eaten and oft-despised, is now the fruit of the nokdu flower; nokdised, it is soaked in the blood of a noble cause lost in a land far away and long ago. Like you, the mushroom-clouds hovering upon the mountains of this country’s sleeping valleys are no longer wild skyborne hutchings and huddlings of fleeting beauty, but horrors engraved in the skins of the beholders and in the bones of their unborn children. Like you, they are innocent, like you, they are damned, criminals in the eternal realm of symbol and shadow that is made of nothing but our words.
Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Plainsongs, Microverses, Sylvia Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, Post, Wine Cellar Press, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her. Linktree: https://linktr.ee/HibahShabkhez