The invisible masks. a poem by Ali Imran

Ali Imran

The invisible masks

Unpeopled streets for days, 
weeks and months
toss my mind 
into a time warp -
a winter of earth's discontent 
with frozen memories
snowballing, and pounding me 
into a strange oblivion. 
In the park outside my window
birds touch down, chirp in the trees.
After sundown a bevy of shy deers 
appears ambling around, 
perhaps, they want to check out 
if it is the same bustling place.
Even the silvery moon wonders:  
What happened to these restless souls! 
Still, flowers bloom,
the trees fresh green
but kids no more frolick around,
and lovebirds stay hungry 
in their desire to clasp and croon 
as if they live and meet digitally only.
Is it forced platonic love of our times?
Outside my window, 
the only being I see
seems to be my masked neighbor 
walking his puppy on the sidewalks.
In my room, I try to scour through 
what they said - 
the old men of ageless Rome
Averroes of the Andalusian spring,
Sweet Swan of Avon, 
the straight-shooting Bulleh, 
mystery-seeking Rumi and Iqbal,
and Twain with his lively spirit.
Will we fare better this time 
when we ride out the viral worries?
Kids rush through the rooms
the blood runs through my veins 
my love's arms, 
my parents’ healing words
vibes and faces of friends 
the dream of a shining city on the hill -
so much to look beyond 
the stinging infection.
But, we, who have refused to 
meet ourselves, will we finally
embrace the moment of truth?
Will we bare our souls 
or stick with the invisible masks?
After that breathless midsummer act
many of us gasped together for air
but the promise of a rainbow life -
with its colors distinct yet knit together -
still awaits the light of day
like my desire for our summer yet to be,
a maskless season yet to be,
and the best of us yet to be.

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Ali Imran is a poet and writer based in Washington D.C. He has been trying to understand the philosophical ideas of thinkers in the Arab and Persian-speaking worlds including Sufi mystics and voices of reformation. Having lived and worked in South Asia, Europe, and the United States, Imran finds it natural to discuss both the Eastern and Western thoughts. Lately, Imran has been writing on challenges like human disconnect in the digital era, climate change and Nature, human soul and the city life, universal mysteries, and immigrants. Imran’s poem on affinity for peace was selected for performance by the World Consciousness Alliance at their 2020 annual event in Washington D.C. Recently, the American University in Washington picked his poem La Convivencia for our Times for reading as part of discussion on the state of arts and culture in the Muslim majority countries. Currently, Imran is working on two books, one on poetry, the other translation of an autobiography. His works have appeared in several publications since his college days when he served as student editor of the Murray College magazine in Sialkot, Pakistan.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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