National Poetry Month: Saba Husain

Dear reader, it has been such a joy to share so many poems with you this year for National Poetry Month. I’d intended to include more different types of posts this year — prompts and poetry-adjacent things and such — but ultimately I just had such a wealth of people’s poems to share that I bent to that impulse as the month wore on.

Today I’m pleased to feature a poem by Saba Husain to round out our poetry celebration. I hope you’ll enjoy it, as I hope you’ve enjoyed this whole month’s series.

The Missing Planet

Oblivious to the red blood moon
we strung the universe on a wire hanger
in order of distance from the sun:

Neptune’s swing entangled
Saturn’s rings, and sent Jupiter
spinning towards Mars.

While the lunar jaw dropper was witnessed
from Sri Lanka to California,
I counted generations on my fingertips,
and imagined faces I’d never met
turned towards the sky.

In another time and age I’d be
on my knees at the spectacle,
having dallied enough nights on my driveway
to know a Texas sky.

Grandson, hold on to the blue green
sphere you plucked from your mobile,
tuck the Earth under your pillow,
let the moon orbit your eyes.

***

Saba Z Husain’s work has appeared in Sequestrum, Bangalore Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Texas Review, Bellevue Review, Houston Chronicle, Aleph Review, Synkroniciti, Equinox, and the anthologies of Mutabilis Press, Ankelbiters Press, Lamar University Press, Southern Poetry Vol. VIII: Texas, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2021 and 2020 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and semifinalist for the 2020 Philip Levine Poetry Prize. Saba serves on the board of Mutabilis Press.

Poem-A-Day: Saba Husain

I was driving to work when I first heard the news of the Columbine shooting. I was driving to a school where I was going to teach young people how to write poems and tell their stories. I was driving to a place where we never worried about anything more serious during a fire drill than how long we would be standing in the sun before the all-clear. I was driving down a tree-lined Houston street, enjoying the gorgeous weather, listening to the breaking news on the radio of something I could not have fathomed before.

This weekend is the 20th anniversary of that heinous tragedy, one which for many Americans was the first of its horrible kind, the hallmark of a wretched new reality. If I had a time-turner, oh the things I would change.

Like Homemade

One boy said it was like
cotton candy  
.                           moist bits
.                           on face and arms
warm batter
.                       splattered on walls
smudged notebooks
splayed in the halls
                  From under the desk
the ceiling appeared
.                                muffin-pocked
the air hard
like taffy at the point of no return
.                           crackling caramel
the light
of a hundred-thousand suns
piercing the classroom window
.                           maple sugar
when it burns

***

Saba Husain is a poet from Houston. She has published poems in Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, Natural Bridge, The Texas Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol VIII: Texas, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Anklebiter’s Press: Kill Line, Mutabilis Press: The Enchantment of the Ordinary, and Jaggery Lit. She was a finalist for the 2014 New Letters Poetry Prize and received the Lorene Pouncey Memorial Award at Houston Poetry Fest. Saba went back to school to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing at University of Houston, after her three girls had completed their undergraduate education. She grew up in Karachi, Pakistan.