A Poem from Bangladesh

June 19, 2017
Eros Bendato (Eros bound), bronze, 1999, by Igor Mitoraj, Kraków, Poland / Photo by Val Kerry
Eros Bendato (Eros bound), bronze, 1999, by Igor Mitoraj, Kraków, Poland / Photo by Val Kerry

Not Elegy, But Eros

            for Xulhaz Mannan, LGBT activist murdered in Bangladesh, April 2016

I have heard the summons. The wind
tossed my hair and wrestled me down
to the earth’s amorous embrace.

I have lain down among the rushes
and offered myself to whatever it was
within me, calling. Some said don’t.

I went wherever the wind blew me.
I fathomed the fall of that abyss, held
only by the thought of one I loved—

the arch of his brow, the two-day scruff
of his jaw rasping against my cheek,
the pulsing veins of his slender limbs.

I have loved my brothers and comrades.
I have blessed the new year and painted
the town with all the colors of my love.

I have faced the flash of steel, the howl
of unholy voices. But it was their eyes,
their hard unloving eyes, that undid me.

Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Scholar, Southwest Review, PN Review, Salmagundi, World Literature Today, and other journals. Her first full-length collection, entitled Not Elegy, But Eros, is forthcoming from NYQ Books (US) and Bengal Lights Books (Bangladesh).

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