Jibril Noora: two poems


de·​tri·​tus | /dɪˈtrʌɪtəs/
[mass noun]

     1. Waste or debris of any kind.

‘Saraswati is but detritus before the British colonial gaze.’
‘In pooling water, her ancient appellation leaves but detritus in the aftermath of another monsoonal deluge.’
‘The colonial state – devastated by detritus Devi – invokes lingua franca and terra firma as definitive incantations.’
‘Saraswati finds her voice turned into Vedic detritus in the mouths of clever-tongued kraits.’
‘Her body is unceremoniously embanked and poisoned by urban detritus, discontinuing its riverine dance.’
‘With Saraswati dead, who defines detritus?’

debris, refuse, waste, refuse, rubbish, refuse, wreckage, refuse, flotsam and jetsam, Saraswati failing still to refuse

British informal paki, wog, heathen, hijra, refugee, Burbury-clad Saraswati drinking afternoon tea

     1.1. Gravel, sand, silt, or other material produced by erosion.

‘Knife gates choke on detritus that rests in Saraswati’s riverine wounds.’
‘Her rivers rise in refusal of the settling detritus, spilling their banks with a thirst for retribution.’
‘The colonial state – devastated by departed Devi of detritus silt – invokes lingua franca and terra firma to no avail.’
‘Saraswati bleeds once-lifegiving detritus, drowning British regiments in posthumous rage.’
‘Her inanimate body remains embalmed in defiance, burning on the banks of a detritus delta.’
‘With Saraswati dead, who defines detritus?’

     1.2. Organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.

‘Saraswati turns to deleterious detritus as her body decays.’
‘In waterlogged floodplains, her floodtide finds famine-stricken cadavers that turn to detritus.’
‘The colonial state – departed only in definition – observes the mortal detritus to invoke lingua franca and terra firma still.’
‘Saraswati mourns this detritus in departed tears.’
‘With Saraswati dead, her definition is disrupted.’

     2. A fragmented definition that fragments narratives.

‘Sift through the detritus in search of a demonised deity lying dead in the river.’
‘Sift through the detritus in search of a demonised deity lying dead on the banks.’
‘Sift through the detritus in search of a demonised deity lying dead on your tongue.’

‘Sift through the detritus to defy definition.’

Intergenerational Dream Journal

Nana summons me to sit cross-legged at the foot of his river/bed and bask in bedtime histories. His electric sunlight chandelier showers his Dhaka bedroom in a monsoon of West Bengali warmth shining over a bedsheet-crease Bhadai from before-I-was-born. Boistrous bhodrolok boyhood buoys to the surface of his memory, and pours like tea through his crystaline teeth as lulling reminiscence that casts me adrift.


Nana lifts riverbeds
                                   in childhood dreams,
his immortal dredger hands
                                   caked in quicksand
and drawing the venom
                                   of a wicked white krait
whose sloughed-off scales
                                   embank the rivers.

Nana builds
                                   quicksand castles
with waterfront views;
                                   a penthouse panopticon
looking over new metropolitan deltascapes
                                   and overlooking the remnant snakeskin
flags on reclaimed lands that
                                   embank the floodplains.

Nana –
                                   the hunter
immortal –
                                   is hunted
by the riverside,
                                   paralysed in quicksand
with his zamindar hands
                                   but they only betray and bury


Surfacing in a river of sweat, I wade in the wake of a passing dream, my resurrected figure hanging damp with the age of an older incarnation. My river/bed brings back bodies burnt or buried in the past, all sleeping ancestors present for a laical confirmation wake. If the chandelier once shone sunlight, it now burns with the quicksand-overpass glow of kerosene, and spills on faces buried or burnt. Nana lies next to me in immortal dreams, a memory with gentle dredger hands. Were I to wake him now, what stories would he tell?

Jibril Noora is a Bangladeshi-Swiss Hijra residing in the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh First Nations for the past five years. She is trying to re-tell the stories of her people with purpose both pragmatically intergenerational and poetically anti-imperial. He is also undertaking graduate studies in landscape architecture at UBC. Noora is equally uncomfortable with all the pronouns which have been Anglo-centrically imposed on it.

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