Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

I shudder at this sorry sight
How many are like this
jealous of vision

In whose portion will be no riches of witness
Whose fate is to see no celebration nor celebrant
Who thirst to see the rays stream down
Who say it isn’t the alighting
look to the road

Tell them come take my eyes
Before my body gives out
Before this soul of dust is also gone
Before some great calamity befalls

Save my eyes from becoming a notion
Put my eyes in their faces

Who will be able to bear though
the ruin my eyes have seen
Who will be so brave
keep their eyes always open
Even as chimeras roll down
the branches of their lashes
Even as shrapnel twists
and encamps in the breath
Even as life cries out
for the rest of life

Ahmad Faraz

Ahmad Faraz, the renowned Urdu poet, was born near Peshawar in 1931 and died in Islamabad in 2008. His literary production includes thirteen volumes of poetry and spanned six decades, including the end of British rule and the establishment of the state of Pakistan, where he spent most of his career and founded the Pakistan Academy of Letters. In addition to writing popular and frequently-performed love poetry, Faraz followed the great modernist Urdu writers in being an outspoken commentator on politics. Following his criticism of Zia-ul-Huq’s military government and subsequent arrest, Faraz lived in self-imposed exile in Canada and Europe for six years in the 1980s during which time he continued to write against the regime. The recipient of many accolades, Faraz received one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honors, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2004, but returned the award in 2006 in protest against the Musharraf regime. “Eye Bank” was published in 1983, in a collection entitled Nabeena Sheher Main Aieena (Mirror in Blind City).

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb is Assistant Professor of English and comparative literature at Williams College. She is writing an academic book on the politics of the epidemic imaginary in colonial letters and a collection of poems, Janaab-e Shikva after the Urdu poet Iqbal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Triple Canopy, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Fence, The Bennington Review, Poetry, The Boston Review, and other venues.