Poem: Postcard from Kashmir – Agha Shahid Ali

Agha Shahid Ali

Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) was a poet, translator and academic from Kashmir. He is credited with single-handedly introducing the classical ghazal to America and the West, which spurred a whole bunch of native English writers trying their hand at the ghazal. Here is a poem from his collection “The Country Without a Post Office”, about how felt when he received a postcard from his violence-ridden Kashmir.

Postcard from Kashmir

Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox,
my home a near four by six inches.

I always loved neatness. Now I hold
the half-inch Himalayas in my hand.

This is home. And this is the closest
I’ll ever be to home. When I return,
the colors won’t be so brilliant.

The Jhelum’s waters so clean,
so ultramarine. My love
so overexposed.

And my memory will be a little
out of focus, in it
a giant negative, black
and white, still undeveloped.



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