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‘Prodigy’ and other poems by Mishal Imaan Syed

By: Mishal Imaan Syed

I. Prodigy

“c# minor is a healing key.”
This is what she tells me, and it is, too
So velvet. Softest as the first of winter’s aubade The color of fantaisies and tonalities of remembrance,
a minor,
When you told me
Guiding hands on the keys Look, this can be transposed. Translated.
And you are not any less than her.
Only different. A translation.

But I am so close, I whisper, the insistence of a
clipped D Major
I was taught, gifted, a thing of fascination
How could I lose before her?
My mother always bowed in sujood
For a daughter like her—
Or at least, I assumed she did, because what mother didn’t
didn’t ask

They call this song Consolation.
And this one, this Nocturne, written at night
With harmonies that never quite satisfy As the stars sank because he missed her, this woman, his country:
Ardent longing produces the loveliest of melodies.

The notes stutter and fall and so do I
Staggered because I need this, deoxygenated Why do I long for ownership of beauty? Is it not enough for me That beauty exists?

Have you ever been jealous of a story or a song?

I was so close.

II. of sisters and storms

Darling, you cower at the sobbing of the heavens
Celestial domes shatter above us, turning
Your effervescent smiles to dust.

Look, darling, it’s only the universe’s cleansing
These dulled stars cloaked by rabid lightning
Beholding our jeweled cities, eclipsed by torrential downpour.

Nightingales light the skies in streaked sapphire
Cries outstripped, unheard as they welcome
The first writhing tempest of the summer solstice.

You shiver, trapped in this transcendental fugue
I’m scared, the stars are falling—
Rain churns your words, listless turns of phrase.

Pandora unleashes a thousand vices above the spectral clouds Storming the atmosphere and your heart—
Darling, the skies find solidarity in your tears.

My love, it is only through tempests That we unveil peace.


III. Inheritance

Transient glow, the fractal smiles of
a thousand shattered moons (and suns)
Because, like veils, this child, you eclipse the day
Yet not as shadows misrender the walls, but rather
Guarding me from frigid air.

Detached, indifferent in your cheer. As nightingale song.

Nightingales always sing.

I house restraint. (But not always.)
Temperate verve, choked impassion, yet—
Converging on tears.
Brokenness is specific to me.
I do not think these things are inherited.

I am patterns. They appear, as you trace them,
As shifting chiaroscuro—then burning tempestuous
I hope you will mollify the rabid flames.
And your tentative touch, pale hands
lowered lashes (reflection)
Because will you?

I want to know what it is like when
even the stars conspire
Breathing dancing, sartorial light
For you, because we are not alike, child
For some the stars are hung in contempt.
(Do they not say there are stairways to heaven?)

And I shall tell you that
Stars are not just flame.
They are also dust and ash and hydrogen
Imploding, subversive—
They breathe ascending gilded stairways
For you, and so:
I will not steal your light.

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