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.
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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