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.
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 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.