Lessons from Empress Nur-Jahan at the Harem

By Rushda Rafeek

Morphing Venus, Ronald Paredes

Morphing Venus, Ronald Paredes

Watch him yield as you purdah his eyes with opium. String  
tight garlands of jasmine to your teeth like fangs. Then  
scuffle around his pride. Be a tigress. Trust the guerilla in you. 
Lay your tongue on a sitar. Play it for his coronation
in a few years. Implant this to it: Usurp. Remember to scoff
at the parakeets perched on his wrist. Lean a little with parted lips  
and harness what is portent; the parodies, the assaults
the executions, the merciless. Reclaim. Inhale. His liquored
breaths, shape them to ghazals. Do this slowly so when your  
hips swing like hanged silver-lamps, you form the body
he purloined; your marigold menace, arson turmeric, 
the sharp pattering of your rain-fringed chagrin
scrawled on cheeks of rouged pink cushioning  
the envy. Your touch is a bangle shattered. Your fist, a scowl
left in water, transcending. Look him in the eye. Haunt him
with that pious mystery hidden under carpets sprawled like fables. 
Loosen your curtained lambency, all the tantalized
unease, your widowed shrouds. Prepare such violet hearts for volition. 
And every brazen, every fearless stride, every divinity
glutted becomes yours, never ceasing. Your light is lethal. Feast there. 

Rushda Rafeek serves as a Fiction Editor for The Missing Slate magazine. Her works have appeared/are forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, Visual Verse, Monkey Bicycle, Through the Gate, Strange Horizons, among others. She is currently based in Sri Lanka. 

Ronald Paredes (mundosanto), is a latin-american artist and graphic designer from Caracas, Venezuela. Born and raised in a family of painters and designers, have been always in contact with the graphic arts and visual communication.