KCL student poets: Isobel Lewis-Jarvis & Rabia Kapoor

 

Isobel Lewis-Jarvis

 

    Language is a bowl of eel noodle soup

 

Eyes squint at the menu, sprawled with inky strokes of fish hooks;
I try to negotiate the stencilled shapes the way I sculpted my name in hieroglyphs
as a child or tried to clinch water in a sieve, and I wish my tongue held two words
for wind. I drag a clumsy finger across the chalk page and let fate decide what I eat.

Bare feet, rough against tatami, feel the rumble of the shinkansen overhead, that rattles
tin roofs and jolts flames in oil lanterns, casting shadows on the bamboo-walled exhibition
of taxidermy beetles; emerald and seeping with musk of damp forest and smooth jasmine—cut
with smoke from fish-mouthed men dragging on cigarettes that stick to lips, damp with sake.

Drunk men slurping soba men, exchange sharpened sighs of warm breath, their soy-stained
cuffs fall below bony wrists as they carve gestures with supple hands at the chef.
In a bolt, he plunges his fist into a fish tank, leathered knuckles snap the shrapnel
body and slam against the frigid marble, its tail slaps and flicks saline water beads.

Eyes wide, the surge of electricity is cut with one neat slice and the carcass drops in a heavy thud, the
slit yawns gummy flesh, oozing plum-juice stains sterling scales, glinting with a petrol glare. A subtle
blade skims those steel flakes, the oily sheen sticks them to the marble. Scooped
and tossed into a wok, the snake-like creature bursts into flames and crackles in amber oil.

Eyes hidden beneath a sinking brow bone, the chef leans over the counter, resting a ceramic
bowl of swimming noodles in front of me. I am confronted with gawping
eyes peaking through vacant veins, grinning at my incompetence. Stiff fingers coyly
clamp around chopsticks, brittle like clumsy fawn legs rickety on the ground. Teeth clenched,
eyes wide, I meet my fate: eel noodle soup.


 

Rabia Kapoor

 

    The Women of Shaheen Bagh

 

In Delhi,
As we speak,
There are women
On the streets
Of Shaheen Bagh.

There are songs
Of Azadi,
Freedom, liberty,
That they chant
Into the dark.

From dawn
Until dusk,
Day
After day,
A hundred
Over hundreds are
Saying this revolution,
12
It’s ours.

Burn
Our blankets
If you must
The fire
Will keep us
Warm

Take
Everything
Our voices
Are still our own

Your threats
Your weapons
They do not
Cannot scare us.

The fact
Of being oppressed
Is that oppression
Cannot wear us

The coldest
Of a hundred years
Delhi winter here
In Shaheen Bagh.
There is food
Being cooked
On the streets
As we speak
The women
Will offer you
Sweets
Ask
If you need anything.

A revolution led
By women looks
Something
Like this.

There isn’t much
To do, you sit
And discover
That power
Doesn’t lie
In gunshots.

Instead their children
Will sing, young girls
Will dance, poets
Will speak, travellers
Will paint. The rest
of the world,
we’ll watch
These women.
Have you heard

Of the women
Who will not sleep?
They do not tire,
They will not leave,
They’re there,
On the streets.
Have you heard of Shaheen Bagh?

Perverts tremble,
Killers cower,
Dictators sweat profusely,
As the women smile,
Sit peacefully.

Don’t worry
We have time
We’ll wait until
You change your mind

They’re being hailed
As heroes,
Lions and tigers,
Revolutionaries, saints.
I disagree.
I look at them,
What they’ve done,
And I think
They are nothing more,
Nothing less
Than this.

 

KCL student poets

About KCL student poets

Here we showcase poems by recent graduates of King's College London's Creative Writing courses.