Agha Shahid Ali–At the Museum

But in 2500 B.C. Harappa,

who cast in bronze a servant girl?

No one keeps records

of soldiers and slaves.

The sculptor knew this,

polishing the ache

Off her fingers stiff

from washing the walls

and scrubbing the floors,

from stirring the meat

and the crushed asafoetida

in the bitter gourd.

But I’m grateful she smiled

at the sculptor,

as she smiles at me

in bronze,

a child who had to play woman

to her lord

when the warm June rains

came to Harappa.


April, 1990