Mohammed Abdul Latif
The Poor Woman's Hunger - Poem by Mohammed Abdul Latif
She dragged the paraphernalia by the weight of their locks,
with frozen fingers, with blue veins climbing upon fair skin.
Her pale eyes looked emptily towards the sky's canopy,
Her forehead wore wrinkles of age, so did her cheeks and chin.
In winter, by the stool she whispered to the stove,
All your fire has not quelled the hunger and it's pangs,
Your coal that has greyed upon the youth of fire now,
can no longer bear the pain, the sting and the fangs.
Damn old hunger I swear, lives older than my feeble hands,
she said, as she lay by her window, trembling cold and weary
On an empty stomach, heart half aching and a mind,
full of puddings, cold fudges, warm tea and sweet sherry.
In her hay days, she had baked beans and meat stew to feast,
and silver spoons jangled against fine porcelain dishes
In her kitchen stood the ladle besides woks, chattels and urns,
Her red wine glasses never dried like her wishes.
She had brought flowers from the market, daisies and lotuses,
and cooked turkey with turnips, fish with vinegar and ale,
And had fed her sons and daughters, and all her grandchildren,
through summers, winters, autumns, springs, rain and hail.
And now they were gone, and she was left alone, sulking and fretful,
and her heart sunk with grief and despair, tired and bored,
And her memories came haunting her every evening, night and day,
On an empty table, the jug rested unstirred and unpoured.
Only a small oil lamp brought glints of light by the meatsafe,
Empty bottles, phials and vials, and a fat dead rat,
She crouched upon a soft velvety divan, with satin upholstery,
As she dreamnt, swaying cold and hungry upon her mat.
Then one day, she sold away her little cottage to a rich lad,
And had the barrow carry her to the railway station old,
She had a beautiful maid now from all the money she got,
And she had no dearth of money, pearls, crystals and gold.
The engine whistled away loud and strong, as she peered out,
Her maid served her bread, salads and some croissants fine,
And now she craved for wealth, treasures and troves of gems,
She became a merchant, selling corks and bottles of wine.
She bought fine gowns, embroidered by hand, in rich colours,
She wore pearls, and expensive shoes crafted in vixens leather.
And adorned herself with gold and silver trinkets,
And had a warm cap, crested with a quetzal's feather.
Yet she was hungry and thirsty, her pangs did not cease
And her feeble hands could not even count money
But she lived off with a new hunger stalking her,
and this was more sweeter yet unsatisfying than honey.
Jingling coins and some farthings, overtook hunger,
The beggars she did not give them handsome doles,
And charity was not among her virtues of the gospel,
She helped not any destitute, 'wretched poor souls! '
She hated poverty and poor men, tramps, waifs and urchins,
And boasted off her wealth, precious jewels, gold and lands.
And thirsty was she for the oceans of the world, yet,
Only a few draughts of water she could hold in her hands.
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