Mehvash Amin: a poem



At the Traffic Lights


The whole town

is being turned over

like a barren field.

Patches of routed macadam

turn their glistening underbellies

to the sun, and men with pick-axes

flush the roads out

as if in search of treasure.


I saw him at an intersection

behind the ropes:

he was a little way away

from the others, not

partaking of their nimbus

of solidarity. His clothes

were limned on his body

with the sure strokes of familiarity


and sweat bubbled on his face

like the malodorous

skin of sour milk. As a

cloud provided a moment's

relief, he straightened and

shook his head, but slightly,

so that no useful energy should

dissipate. The cloud lingered,


prompting a supervisor

to stroll over from the fatter

shade of a tree and tell him

to get on with it, he didn't

have all day. Abruptly,

a prayer gleamed in the

inner seams of my heart

like a fine needle.


Then the lights changed

and we moved on,

leaving him to tangle

with his superior in

the once-removed reality

of the rear view mirror.

He was no one's concern before,

and is no one's now.



Mehvash Amin is a writer, poet, editor and publisher (Broken Leg Publications). Her poems have been published in journals such as Vallum, Sugar Mule and The Missing Slate, as well as in Abhay Khanna’s anthology, Capitals. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem "Karachi". She is the force behind The Aleph Review, a yearly anthology of creative writing from Pakistan and elsewhere.