Selim Sarwar took degrees in English from Dhaka University and a Ph.D. from McGill. He has taught at Dhaka Univeresity and the University of Taif in Saudi Arabia, and is currently chairman of the English department at North South University in Dhaka. He was recognized as a promising new voice of the sixties, but it is only recently that he has collected his work.

Bangladesh: December 1973

Something’s swimming in your eyes – something horribly slimy–
jellyfish? snake?
Something black’s taking off from the eyebrows – raven? owl?
bat? the emissary of death?
Spread open the palms, let me see the lips –
fungus covers the lines of the hand,
stubborn pimples cover the lips!

I hear you’re the proverbial queen, yours the Madonna’s glory,
your touch turns everything into gold,
when you loosen your dense hair, there is a downpour,
moonlight when you take off your bra;
you’re the deep green of life, the redness of blood.

Then why this fever gripping your whole body?
This disease in every vein and artery?
Such sorrow in your breast, this sickly yellow pallor on the skin?
Aren’t they yours – arms forged in the current of rivers,
flowing with healing powers?
And a saree edged with sunlight in which a wealth of crops frolics?

Giving the lie to all gilded myths, all fragrant fairytales,
in those large, dark, melancholy eyes
something’s swimming, something horribly slimy –
hunger and want? sin? a black adder? a curse?

– Kaiser Haq