these nights

by Aqeela Naqvi

these nights carry within their folds a song
which breaks the heart, and by such, then lives on
the pierce comes soft, the ache, it never ends
once tasted, this, a wound which never mends

stirring on trees, a fragrant symphony
rising on stars, blazing your memory
worlds vanish, now, there’s only you and I
great silence, under tapestry of sky

around us waits, lonely expanse of land
once more a child, you take me by the hand
with trembling steps towards the days of yore
a blood-dimmed tide, a whistling desert shore

as we draw near, my heart begins to pound
my soul knows well the sadness of this ground
something tells me that I’ve been here before
as if a dream, that chills me to my core

a forlorn tent appears, to it you go
holding my breath, your candlelit shadow
your friends and family for you await
the dark, a veil, for dawn’s approaching fate

your voice, a tender breeze, to them you say:
None by me are bound henceforth here to stay;
as a camel, the darkness of this night –
use it to ride away, and spare your life.

hearing your words, knowing what is to come
what scenes will soon follow the battle drums
the spears hunting and bloodthirsty arrows
knowing all this — will any choose to go?

an ocean’s crash, the voices here resound,
We’ll not leave you ’til by death we are found!
We’ll stab with spears and with our swords we’ll strike,
with no weapons, these stones we’ll use to fight! 

If we would die and then be brought to life
be burnt, scattered, and then again revived
each time toward our Lord this oath we’d say:
for Hussain we will die, death in Your way…

this loyal band: I watch the scene in awe
How could we ever leave? SubhanAllah!
the moon’s light pales to that of faces bright
who’ll follow their Imam to edge of night

a voice rings out, I know not from which way
distant and near, a thundr’ing whisper says:
know well, child, this land where you arrive
where living die, and dying, come alive 

the land of the Ushaaq and Shuhadaa*
whose hearts burned with the glory of Allah
none from before could their station attend
none like them will exist until time’s end

 many were they who claimed to love Hussain
yet few were those who bore the burning plains
many whose thoughts wished that he would arrive
yet few whose deeds went racing to his side  

easy, the love rooted shallow in words
harder, the blossoming beneath the swords
words without thoughts never to heaven go
and tears without conviction, stay below 

for you, the sword is yet a heavy weight
the armor and its duty suffocate
loving the thought of loving your Imam
action, a task, yet slipping through your palms

 know well which land it is where you now stand
its code of honor seek to understand
perhaps if you reform through what you feel
in these nights, its secrets will be revealed 

learn from this land, the mettle of man’s strength
dust turns here into gold in burning tents
the mind and hand move sep’rate in Kufa
iron and flame, they forge in Karbala

 the land of the servants of the Beloved
killed thirsty, drowned in rivers of their blood
having the choice to turn and save their lives—
choosing to stay, the price of Paradise  

 battle they faced, on feet they did not run
this mortal body, they had overcome
they charged like spirits swift, Allah! their cry
with wings, like singing doves, toward the sky…

 

*Lovers and Martyrs