6 October 2006

Dark Flowers by Deela Khan

DARK FLOWERS

(For Nadia Anjuman Herawi 1980 - 2005)


Dark flowers come blazing from the night skies
Sulphurous blooms burn, mutilate; blow bodies apart.
Tell me who are the warmongers, terror-stokers–why do innocents die?

The planet pirouettes on its bloodied axis
Missiles fly dragonflies of fire carted by hands hollow of heart
Dark flowers come blazing from the night skies

Bombs blast away towers and trees up high
Emit rays, scrape skin. Scorched faces smart.
Tell me who are the warmongers, terror-stokers–why do innocents die?

In times of jittery Peace we’re living with war, Why, I ask, why?
Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, live walls and camps, state-of-the-art
Dark flowers come blazing from the night skies

On continents and seas of plenty, people war, starve and die
Who attached the price-tags, carved land, diamonds, coal, oil, and water apart?
Tell me who are the warmongers, terror-stokers–why do innocents die?

And you, my Dylan, scintillating star in the nightsky
I thank, praise you now for villanelles that sting and dart
Dark flowers come blazing from the night skies
Tell me who are the warmongers, terror-stokers–why do innocents die?


© Deela Khan
7 September 2006


About Deela Khan

Deela KhanDeela (Dilaram) Khan was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. She studied English, History, Psychology and Creative Writing in the Western Cape and New York.  As poet, writer and gatherer of folk tales, fables and histories, she lives and writes from the trenches of Poetry, History, Political vision and Moral witness.

Her poems and short-fiction have appeared in local and overseas anthologies and journals. Her first selection of poetry, So Hard to Heal in a Hard Age, was published in Kentucky, USA, by White Fields Press in 1994.  Her second offering of poems, Engaging the Shades of Robben Island, was published in Cape Town, South Africa, by Realities in 2002. She is currently preparing her first novel, Hold the Sky, for publication.                


Reflections from Julie of the Woman-Stirred Collective

Nadia Anjuman’s life and poetry has been of interest to me since I learned about her death. We posted about Anjuman’s death when it was first reported. Last Sunday in response to that post, Deela Khan, a poet in South Africa, posted her wonderful villanelle “Dark Flowers” in the comment section of that Woman-Stirred blog entry. We were all taken with this lovely poem and asked Deela if we could post it as a full blog entry on Woman-Stirred. Deela graciously complied.

When I first read this poem, I was so moved by how Deela takes the image of the “Dark Flower“ which is central to the Anjuman work that is available in English translations and uses it to reflect on the wars that terrorize us today. Her mournful language, so carefully matched to the villanelle form, with the contemporary evocations of human-made horrors creates a powerful experience for me as a reader.

Deela is a member of a women’s writing and publishing collective, WEAVE, in South Africa. Perhaps future collaboration between Woman-Stirred and WEAVE will be in the making. In the meantime, reread ”Dark Flowers“ and post your appreciation and reflections on Deela Khan’s important work.