The bard is writing a new song today; perhaps it will be my song. They have all brought home dragons, castles, princesses, knights; I just have one drooping bell-flower I cannot even name, like the plague-slain friend’s sister across the ocean whose orphaned babies will not remember her smile. I am a sad bear bearing sad flowers, chasing her forlorn, fading dream of immortality, seeking a song I sing, you sing, we sing, they sing, a song that settles in the frayed gossamer of the mind, weaving new webs for murdered dreams. I bring home only the wraith of a dead girl’s daughter blinking solemnly at falling snow, the echo of her son running home after winning a snowball fight, then pulling up short at the door. The flowers in the bard’s song are red, red roses for the gloriously dead; but my ghosts are all still living, and neither scroll nor ballad shall speak of such things, for an egg is not meat. My little bell-flower watches the rose petals falling, and says, you don't need me in your eyes, sad bear. I can roll down your cheeks now, into oblivion, bitter salt like the sea, pure pain like the river. I can learn to write my own sad song, a song to be weeded out of the earth through the ages and cast aside with a gardener’s grim happiness, for growing too wild, too free, for being the carmen the poeta cannot sell. The bard is writing a new song today, but it will not be my song.
Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Plainsongs, Microverses, Sylvia Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, Post, Wine Cellar Press, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.