Four Shades

My burdened arms row under a smothering sky.

Father stands in the middle of our shikara
observing the current with a mournful aspect.
He shall soon pay old debts with fresh blood.
Tomorrow, my sister will be yoked to a man
whose face is as unknown to her as the ocean floor.
She is eclipsed under a white hijab yet silent
tears have made her pashmina damp with
anguish for the woman that she will become.
The dolls that she supped with yesterday are
already relics of more innocent times.
Our little sun with coffee colored
eyes has a face like a sacred lotus.
I am glad that I cannot see it now, for such
sweetness marred by suffering is a sorrowful vision.

Mother sits next to father, draped in black
in preparation for the requiem.
Her tears roll inward, down to her heart,
but she makes no sound.

An ancient troller in a smaller shikara briefly
locks eyes with me before he docks for his
midday meal; he watches our somber collective
with curiosity and then turns his attention back
to the shore, convinced that the four shades
behind him were only a mirage.


Inspired by the work of Abbas from the Magnum Photo Cooperative