Daughter of the Passion by Afshan Shafi

Saint Gemma Galganiwas born in 1878 in a village at the foot of the blue Pizzorne near Lucca in Italy. She is known as Gem of Christ, Flower of Lucca, and Intercessor for sinners. Galgani is alleged to have experienced stigmata on June 8, 1899 on the eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart. She is the patron saint of students, pharmacists, against temptations, against the death of parents and against tuberculosis.

Daughter of the Passion

The Lord arrived

Not with love’s cortege-

It’s green-atomed dervish,

And entranced succuba –

He arrived in the cicatrix of a rose

Punctuated tattoos on the soft divisions of

Her ribs, mouth, belly, sacral curve

It was a surprise

Or the honey-footed advance of  reham ( the favored word

Of a cotton-mouthed mystic swilling rainwater in August)

His alabaster arms wound around her navel

Ate of her

Gloss of soul,

(That myriad-oiled ectoplasm)

Her eye once flat as a cormorant’s  underwing,

Now rashed with chrism,

Peppery feathers and roiling motes

Then, the Lord’s hands, thumbed a cautious reticular

Scale over the bodies of his children

An undersong, as  if by steel propelled

Or the current of silvered waves.

The electricity of his  love’s alleviative kiss

Fit his iron corset over her corset of bones,

His love’s  kiss,

Fit his crown of thorns over the crag of her brow

Momentum not motion,

Conveying his charge-

His prayer of light and blood-

Widening her rounded eye, sharp as frost

For the injured who beseeched her miracle

She drew boles of fragrance from static air

In present day Lucca,

The fumbling arid-palmed pharmacist

Crosses himself before a heather rood.

He watches

How their eyes still, on the fringes of your bedpost

He seems to recall how

The sweet emolliente of your fever

Rose in a faint spume,

Levitating in an endless arcless sweep.

When a child

Presents his  face to your heart’s eye

He is soaked in its heat.

Afshan Shafi smiling

Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore and has studied English Literature and International Relations at The University of Buckingham and Webster Graduate School London. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Wales, Blackbox Manifold, Flag + Void, Luna Luna, Clinic, 3am magazine and others. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies, Smear (edited by Greta Bellamacina) The New River Press Yearbook and Halal if you hear me (edited by Fatima Asghar and Salma Elhilo). She has served as a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and is currently a senior contributing editor at  the  Aleph Review. She also serves as an editor-in-chief for the online Pandemonium Journal, which is a platform for emerging creatives from Pakistan and abroad. She is currently a marketing assistant for the charity, Bunyad Foundation and is trying to write her first novel.

Quiet Women, her collection of poems, is available in Pakistan.

Afshan Shafi

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