My name is Shilo Shiv Suleman-

I am the daughter of نیلوفر/Nilofer (the blue flower)  I took my mother’s surname سلیمان/Suleman (a mountain range/ a prophet) as my own because I was brought into the world through her, and was brought up by her. I am the sister of شان Shaan (pride). I am the grand daughter of نُورجہاں/Noor-Jehan (the light of the world) and قمر الدين/Kamarudin (the moon of faith). In my family line are the women Zubaida, Hamida, Farida, Waheeda daughters of Noor (illuminated) our names are written right to left. 

India (like me) is Muslim. 

Like India, i am also Hindu. 

Look (miraculous) how both faiths live inside me. 

(You can be more than one thing)

one day i’ll meet a prince disguised as a frog who will kiss me and never will i have to ask him to-
loveme loveme loveme loveme loveme
most days (these days) i am asking with every sighing breath of mine for you to
loveme loveme loveme (please) lovemelovemeloveme
maybe i am speaking to myself, maybe my father went missing, (maybe my longing is displaced, maybe i am longing for the garden, maybe i am waiting for death),
maybe my hands are too small, maybe my nose is too big,
maybe i never make myself tender, maybe you never even noticed how tender (i was)
maybe i swallow too many poems, maybe i eat too many stars,
maybe i was loved too much by my mother, maybe i give too much of my love.
maybe you just want me for my honey (and i will give you what you want)
maybe i needed your water, maybe there’s no end to thirst.
have to ask for love.
maybe you never ever have to ask for love
may you never have to ask for love
may you never have to ask for love


I am (re)learning a lost language
to speak to you in secret ways,
banished across a border
(yet hidden in our hearts)
this is how our people
learnt to love like art:
sweet nothings (electric)
eyes that linger (magnetic)
and all the softness
our subcontinent knows best.

Jaan-e-bahar/جان بہار
(the life of my garden)
Dildaar/دل دار
(the one who steals my heart)
Chitchor/چِت چور
(you come to me in secret)
(I keep your secrets well)
(king of kings)
can you
untie my mother tongue,
so I can spit my loving out.

(your intention)
(all this intimate attention)
(our secret glances)
(close tender dances)
(all the graces I conjure
to pull you closer)
(separations/complex situations)
(the wind between us)
a field of flowers
(as lions roared I whisper mysteries into your folds) (lower lip caressing earlobe)
(fingers tracing lines into a new continent
we had never explored)

Janaab, Huzur, Shehzada (my) Emperor.
I’ll let you reign over my interior kingdom,
make a sovereign territory of my skin,
mark borders, drink from rivers,
harvest salt, make your fortress.
(I’ll let you in)

(If not) I’ll make a muse out of the wind
and a desert out of thirst.
(secular sovereign immortal)

I belong to myself first.

In sanskrit the word “𝘈𝘯𝘢𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘢” ⁣⁣
or the heart chakra means unstruck or 𝐮𝐧𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝⁣
The same dual maps that trace lines across the earth, are traced in my body too. ⁣⁣
The lower chakras are offered to the goddess, feminine deep rooted with a downward pointing triangle taking us backbackback into creation. ⁣⁣
The higher chakras are crowned by an upward pointing triangle to ⁣⁣
king (transcendance) masculine. ⁣⁣
He is “neti neti” – not this/not that. ⁣⁣
She is “iti-iti”- this too/that too. ⁣⁣
Shrishti (creation), ⁣⁣
Samhara (destruction)⁣⁣
Sthiti (permanence)⁣⁣
Tirobhava (illusion)⁣⁣
Always in contrast, they meet in the heart in two intersecting triangles as some kind of undefinable (but undeniable) geometric love story.⁣⁣
In opposition they exist as -not life, not death but 𝗪𝐚𝐫. ⁣⁣
In composition they are⁣⁣
spinning starwork galaxy/ the beginning of solar/lunar dynasty.⁣⁣
Anahata is 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝⁣.⁣
Beyond binaries and through love, we find a path through graveyards and gardens when we meet in the heart. ⁣⁣
(and this is when) ⁣⁣
the universe begins to hum itself into existence. ⁣⁣
Tantra means “to weave”⁣⁣
sex and death⁣⁣
masculine and feminine ⁣⁣
yes and no⁣⁣
wounded and healing ⁣⁣
Abstinence and sustenance.⁣⁣
traumatic and transcendant⁣⁣
myth and reality⁣⁣
sky and earth⁣⁣
dusk and dawn⁣⁣
It’s serpentine, entwined.⁣⁣
older than breath. ⁣⁣

qalb قلب‎⁣⁣
My heart, i offered you up and then flung you into the ocean last week.⁣⁣
It was a full moon night and salt and pearls gathered around you to preserve you.⁣⁣
Like an ancient pharaoh salty deep in pyramid gold, you will be safe when it’s time to return and reign again with someone who wants you. Until then, immerse yourself in deep, wander moonlit paths and singsingsing yourself to sleep.⁣⁣

praised be my uneven teeth. praise be the soft line beneath my belly, praise be the space
between my toes.
praise be my mothers rough hands/cheekbones/
praise be my chipped toenail. praise be my left breast, right breast, the space between my eyebrows. praise be my grazed knuckles.
praised be my unclenched fist. praise be the garland of my ribs. praised be my stained sheets. praise be pleasurebreath, praise be deepsighs, praise be my lovenoises, praise be moaning, praise be the (radiant) underside of my ass, praise be the parting of my hair (unkempt)
praise be the line between my lips, praise be the inside of my forearm, praise be my inner thigh, praise be the lips of my flower, praise be the dull ache in my lower back, praise be the temple of my womb. praise be my mothers cackle. praise be my grandmothers veins, praise be my resplendent nose, praise be sun-tan, praised be my lower lip.
praised be the garden of my inner arm, praised be my unshaven legs. praise be my honeyed tongue, praised be my areola, praised be ova.
praised be pollen/pollination,
praise be creation.
praised be my spine (electric)
praise be it’s nectar (ecstatic)
praise be sahasara. ajna, manipura. praised be my bicycle wounds.
praised be my fluttering eyelashes.
praised be blushing. kissing. touching.
(and when I’m done
I turn back into nothing)
I am
Softness incarnate

I spent two nights sleeping in a field waiting for you to call me.

What happened then?

I filled my mouth with your name, I looked for water with a divining rod, I called your ancestors out of their sweat and salt. I invoked your forefathers (and tried to forgive them).
I met a fertility goddess. I wept into an orchid’s mouth. I covered my body in seaweed. I traced blue lines across a map. I consulted an oracle.
I pulled at a thousand flowers
Pistil by pistil
Petal by petal
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me

You must have heard me or a good planet must have graced me with their charms because my phone glittered and vibrated. So I turned to river and wrapped myself around your ankles.
You took me to a kingdom of mosses. I try to impress you by walking on water, offer hibiscus and milk to your demigods. Make myself a throne of sunlight and riverstones placed carefully so you could see me (shimmering).

The river was wet and began to moan. Dappled sunbeam on a branch of a tree, that waits all day for the sun to caress her. I made a shrine out of river stones, and playfully cooled your golden chest with three fingers of water. I wanted to trace rivers along your neck, down your spine, across your ( )

I sat by your feet and told you I had changed. I let you carry my stones. I asked you to lead the way. I became stronger than the river (even though my eyes still glittered like fire)

For a minute we walked on water
hand in hand. Miraculous.

(And then you ghosted me again)

I exist because love exists

In the unborn world*, the heart is the first organ to develop in the womb.

In the beginning, when an embryo is made up of only a few cells, each cell is fed directly from it’s surroundings. But as the cells divide and multiply to become into a whole (glowing) growing being- the heart is the first organ that begins to take shape. This embryonic heart begins to beat approximately 21 days into your existence and continues carrying out this same vital job until the (tender) afterlife.

As the heart begins to beat, it does not beat alone.
First, it begins to pace with our mother (creator).
(i was not born into this world alone, i will not leave (you in) this world alone)
and then as days go on and our bodies form, it finds it’s own steady drum.
Sixty to a hundred times a minute the heart is filled life Red and kept beat.beat.beating.
4,800 times per hour,
42,048,000 times a year.
(we are beat.beat.beating)
Live long enough and you’ll begin to lose count.
Love long enough and watch more union unfold-
Even in adulthood when two people spend enough time with each other, looking into each other’s eyes and breathing.(beating.being) with each other, their hearts begin to beat in time with each other like fireflies pulsing in patterns.
Biosynchronicity (let’s call it)

This is the beautiful thing about human connection. It’s both visible and invisible. A (precious) thing with secret passages that lead from the eyes to the heart. The mystics proclaimed it first, the lovers knew kit best- we find mirrors in each other again and again (and again and again).
And there are other mirror miracles too – when a teacher is teaching a class, students will begin to breathe in time with the teacher. When women spend enough time with each other, their menstrual cycles sync up.

Our body’s blueprint is connection|union|creation|release and (occasional) compromise.

(The heart is also a muscle) (it has a muscle memory too)
it knows how to beat to me and it learns how to beat to you.
(and like any other muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets)
The affordance of the heart is to expand and contract.

I look beyond myself, i include another, i let you in, I’m in love with you.
i make myself (so) tenderrrrrr.
(I am life-red oxygenated)

I protect myself. I know myself. I trace my own outlines.
I forgive old narratives. I let go of bad blood. I release. I purify.
(I am life-red oxygenated)

Love is not a feminine or masculine emotion. It is not dual or binary.
Love is where we meet (again and again, and again and again).
It is in the middle of the two intersecting binaries in our body.
Where Love exists, Fear does not exist.
I exist because love exists.
If not for the love of two bodies, the love of my caretakers, the love-song that is the earth made harvest that fills my bowl. If not for the miracle sun love, for pollination love, the five layers of atmosphere love, the breath love, forest love, crystal mountain love, friend love, the families we create in love – we would not exist.
(sing it with me)
We exist because love exists.

This is the thing about me and you.
It’s that we come from the very same thing
and we return to the very same thing.
Earthbound, ours is a love story laced with mineral matter.

I am phosphorous / magnesium.
I am red bone bare. I am copper / nitrogen/ sulphate /
I am thirsty /parched

I want to be the garden that grows on top of your soil
To know the weight of your hipbone on mine, tectonic.
(I want you to) lean in soft bodied and whisper-
you will return to me and we will turn into the garden

in an ancient story a golden ball is dropped into a river, never to be returned. You fall in love like this. over and over again with someone who doesn’t want you.
Nothing surprises him. The moon could lower itself into your lap and he still wouldn’t notice you.
did he kiss you?
did he ask you to stay?
he fell asleep as you recited him into existence, damnit. There was no one else there to listen. even crickets kept their silence. •
(there are two sides to this story though and his telling asks for nothing)

your attentive (other)lover asks you- what is it about you that returns to someone who hurts you?
what imprint did your absent father leave into your bones that you forget your worth, forget your name, and are charmed by his hollow spells instead?
Pied piper made his own flute out of oak tree. It’s marked with crescent scars. He calls me towards his mournful river. How can I not follow? Together we are moon, conch, serpent, river, garden, forest. symmetrical. gold and earth.
continent. •

silly girl,
If you (ever)
leave no trace except for spider eyelash marks that you imprint on his pillow. (maybe then he’ll remember you from when you met by the river you offered with your eyes)
trace a serpent upon his forearm, mark it with salt and sage as he tells you about a tiger that forgot the taste of flesh one night when the spirits don’t let you sleep.
anoint his eyelids with rose water. purify him. trace one line across his lip. give him a part of the ocean (only if he’ll keep it) awaken him with your devotion like the daughter of the crystal mountain.

Though you know what?
He doesn’t deserve you.
So they all say. but
you lay down a bed of roses everytime
you see him and spread your legs bare anyway.
Lovefool, even the planets laugh at you. your mouth is gold, illuminated by a fire held in seashell and spell.
Tapas (तप्)
my lonely fire, I think I burnt out that night and broke all my own rules

Damn devotion and those who tell us that your suffering counts for something. Damn the land that taught me to make a god of absence. Damn my open rib cage.

(where I landed up)

Every now and then, a wild thing wanders into your apartment, smelling of the forest. She makes an intricate spiderweb of lullabies like lace with her mouth.

(you are a flood
I should have known sleeping next to you
I’d wake up in a riverbed)

(what comes up)

When I came to the bar, asking strangers for directions, shivering a little with a map inscribed in my palm,
you said your heart was healing
and left a tiny crack in mine.
along an ancient fault line.
(what kind of four leaf clover am I.
lucky charm for everyone but myself)

you probably knew this already because my eyelashes told you everything I couldn’t say with all their insistent fluttering.
Being with a heart that’s taken
leaves no room for an imagination
that wants to kiss your singing mouth on a street, show you off to everyone I meet, paint you in your sleep, make your body sigh, turn off the heat and whisper to you like moon to tides:
“come a little closer”

(what I chose)

last night I think I said more than I ought to.
Wrapped my sulphur fingers too closely into yours. (they’ve been inside volcanos and knew how to find their way to you)
I did that bad-guest thing, where i fall in love and forget to do the dishes and light too many candles, and almost start a fire and drink too much wine and make a shrine in your sheets. I invoke a drowning goddess and whisper prayers and giggle into your pillows and press stolen roses into your folds.
we make incantations of the women whose voices we love.
and chant them
until we fall
(all this is worship)

this time translated as

i am good at keeping things intact.
(I grew up with a man in my house
that broke things)
so i try not to make a home of something
that has to be broken into

i am a woman and i never learnt
how to make a first move
i was taught
to write lovespells instead
(by my mother, conjurer)
and i hope that what i write
doesn’t always keep me

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