Two Poems by Umma Habiba

    translated by Quamrul Hassan

    Poster

    Let the last poster read
    That the hills now return home devouring human flesh

    Sucking on the salt-scented blood,
    I am hanging from the rope
    When the wind comes –
    I will leave my body and fly towards the Akhaura station.
    A hill will chase me
    In a bear hug, his tongue will leave poison on my soft lips –
    If I swallow death is inevitable.

    The rope of the night trembles in pain,
    The hill hangs from it –
    It can jump on the locals anytime.

    Write down on the poster, in red ink
    May the human bodies melt before they starve to death.
    Let the poster fly away from the heap of corpses.
    Let the hill survive devouring the human flesh.

    Aromatic Lips

    Winter is a dejected sea
    Like the night is the sum of some dogs whining,
    And the hill is the pale face
    Dying for sleep in a numbing pain.

    I have lost a pair of aromatic lips
    From the same mouth where you lost the 13th tongue
    I am here – in search of those lips.
    Please turn on the lights.

    My eyes never sold the years I got to live –
    I just fell asleep on the bed of a man who did not love me;
    I was tired of the long walks –
    And the endless search –
    I will leave before nightfall
    Where winter is a dejected sea.

    And the night is the sum of the lover’s curses.

    Quamrul Hassan is an MFA Candidate at the University of Arkansas’s Program in Creative Writing and Translation. A graduate of the University of Dhaka’s Department of English, his books of haiku Spring Moon (2011) and Hyaku Haiku (2016) have been both popular and critically acclaimed. At present, he is translating a collection of contemporary Bangladeshi poetry and a memoir, besides working on his debut novel and the third book of haiku.

    Umma Habiba is a poet and theatre activist from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her debut book of poetry ‘Ghashe Ghashe Roktoful’ (Blood Flowers in the Grass) was published in 2022. A member of the theatre group ‘Batighar’, Umma is also a development professional, and has worked with Rohingya refugees, children with special needs and the underprivileged indigenous people in the country’s hill tracts.

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