To Heba Ahmed for the story

Many wishful bellies
Offer their bangles,
Green, not with envy
But melancholy,
Of childless labour
Tied around the saint’s
Body of bark,
Perhaps not his body
But his aroma,
Hollow body girdled
By hollow bangles,

A hollowness full of
Pregnant absences,
Each absence a prayer
Waiting to be born,

Hazrat Moosa sings
Hijras dance in trance
Birthing myths,
Souls become bodies
And bodies
Turn into flower-trees
Full of juices,

When a man
Dresses like a woman
Draught ends
Over the bed of coitus,
The air ripens
In the arms of trickery,
A king dreams
Of decadent progeny,
A fakir seduces
The aristocrat’s wife,
When a man
Dresses like a woman
He mimics
Gods who switch sexes
To play at

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.