Rizwan Akhtar

After You Left

When you were close words did not wander
now they are homeless like street urchins
the creeper on railing also gained an ugly
length unable to suggest a direction it curls
hallucinations for grasshoppers frisking too
much seeing butterflies flitting maddeningly
around stems of roses, even the gardener
has broken silence about mysterious ways
saplings catch fungal layers and the cat
cuts down its regular visits through corridor
now echoing cold and chooses to sleep inside
the ragged quilt of the watchman who has been
eating alone for years unless there is an
unexpected visitor taking the bench you
used to sit but I invoke presence by throwing
a stone in the puddle left by an overnight rain
how many of us are coming to terms with you.


Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of Poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017) is published by Punjab University Press.   He works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his PhD in postcolonial literature from the University of Essex, UK in 2013. He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He was a part of the workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010.