by Sheikha A.

for and after Saad Ali

after The Changing Light by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

We could be a billion galaxies,
undiscovered and untouched—

method of existence—a stray
particle in vibrant design of dust.

And when the cities come alight
beneath mediocre blankets of stars,

we could hold gravity in our hands
like the sum weight of our limitations;

of the space in time humans call
waiting, we’d be far ahead in living

after a cycle of deaths that burst
out of our eyes—rims of eclipses—

floating clouds of shimmering gas—
belts of shards like the rays of sun.

And when the cities would sleep,
we could be free like an unspoken

notion—imploding solar plexus—
like the book that was never written;

and we could swirl our radius broad,
stretch to thin, opaque eternity;

and we could be the hanging ocean,
our crust a hollow dense of rippling

shimmer. We could be yet not be,
mote or mute—waves of vibrant dust.

PAINTING: Galaxy by Natalia Dumitresco (1959).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came about after an interesting conversation I had with a poet/writer named Saad Ali on the concepts of reincarnation and the nuances of an afterlife, if whether it were just one place, or if it were a dimension of incarnate time, or a choice of existing in any form desired and elected by us, or if whether it existed at all. Almost in tandem, I chanced upon Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “The Changing Light,” and with the conversation fresh in my mind, I began to read the poem through a variable outlook and was able to resonate with the poem not just for its physical presence, but perhaps a meditative state of observation from memory, like existing physically in one place whilst ethereally elsewhere, much like our fantasies of the afterlife.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have included Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Silver Birch Press, Abyss and Apex. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Albanian, Italian, Arabic, Polish, and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. More about her published works can be found at