Shadab Zeest Hashmi


Mosquée de Paris

Ablution water,
on a worshipper’s
slipper left by the doorstep:
She will travel far
and return before its sparkle has dropped.

Gold and ink on parchment
dyed blue
speaks of duty to the window and the wayfarer.

Light caught on pink marble
swirls into an open ear.

Eggs in outstretched hands
of an old woman in Kabul
For the widows of New York
The American author takes them trembling

If there were no kindness
conversation would be useless,
Rumi says. His guides:
A goldsmith, a desert wanderer, a scribe,

Stitched to silence,
you and I wander the same places,
wearing zipped shoes.


Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of poetry collections Kohl and Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. Her latest work, Ghazal Cosmopolitan, is a book of essays and poems exploring the culture and craft of the ghazal form and has been praised by poet Marilyn Hacker as “a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir.” Winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations, Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has been translated into Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu, and has appeared in anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in McSweeney’s In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander women poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

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