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Image by Caroline Forbes

Don't Ask Me, Love, for That First Love

Mimi Khalvati


Don't Ask Me, Love, for That First Love

Mimi Khalvati


Poem introduction

This is a love poem based on a very well-loved love poem by the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmood Faiz, and I've taken his first line for my title.

Don't Ask Me, Love, for That First Love

Don't Ask me. Love, for that First Love
after Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Don't think I haven't changed. Who said
absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Though I watch the sunset redden
every day, days don't grow longer.

There are many kinds of silence,
none more radiant than the sun's.
Sun is silent in our presence,
unlike love, silent when it's gone.

I thought that every spring was you,
every blossom, every bud;
that summer had little to do
but follow, singing in my blood.

How wrong I was. What had summer
to do with sorrow in full spate?
Every rosebush, every flower
I passed, stood at a stranger's gate.

Weaving through our towns, centuries
of raw silk, brocade and velvet
have swilled the streets in blood. Bodies,
ripe with sores in lanes and markets,

are paying with their lives. But I
had little time for the world's wars,
love was war enough. In your sky,
your eyes, were all my falling stars.

Don't ask me, though I wish you would
and I know you won't, for more tears.
Why build a dam at Sefid Rud
if not to water land for years?

Though we'll never see the olives,
ricefields, shelter in an alcove
from the sun, in our time, our lives
have more to answer to than love.


from The Chine (Carcanet 2002), copyright © Mimi Khalvati 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Recordings

Mimi Khalvati Reading from her Poems

1Shanklin Chine

2Rubaiyat

3Vine-Leaves

4Earls Court

5Coma

6Entries on Light (1-6)

7The Chine

8Nostalgia

9Writing Letters

10Eden

11Writing Home

12Villanelle

13The Piano

14Babies

15Life in Art

16Snails

17The Love Barn

18Just to Say

19Song

20Don't Ask Me, Love, For That First Love

21Come Close

22Blinks

23Overblown Roses

24On Lines from Fahmida Riaz and Foroogh Farrokhzad

25Signal

26Ghazal

27Ghazal: Hold Me

28Ghazal: The Servant

29Ghazal: My Son

30Ghazal: The Children

31Blessing

Books by Mimi Khalvati