In Her Words

Bengali-Canadian writer Tasnuva Hayden presents poems from her work-in-progress “These Scarlet Letters” inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter: A Romance”.  In her words, she explores themes of unfulfilled longing, the rationalization of desire through the written word, as well as the ache for the fantastical and the esoteric in a world on the brink of both ecological and societal collapse, more often than not, ruled by the mundane pressures of capitalism.

These Scarlet Letters

by Tasnuva Hayden


diffused smiles nightshade
collar bone skin

ice-trickled irises that
like all others
forgotten under the pressure
of a snapped violin string

saturate me
                        right here
                        right now
                        how on the tip of your earlobe
                        the mist of breath

the width of ten-hooved stag prints
pulse minor sonatas
bruising over thin India ink film

exchanged through the lattice
desert petals held between
the bridegroom’s lips


hips grind Stravinsky full-blast
anticipating the kisses of strangers
for early evening pocketing
the flare of nostrils
the shadow of lashes on caramel freckles
empty chatter dripping over telephone lines

the word delusion materializes where
her blushes needle adrenaline

the word, she thinks, must be conformity

from a third story window
dangles icing sugar limbs
recites half-lidded ghazal
reigns in almond eyes on sandal wood strings


plucks at dawn, bird-song
from cotton-soaked scarlet
on a journey east
the scent of spring buds
impregnates lunar crescents
held in a veil bleeding silver
a shard of glacier melts in her throat
at the notion that she is no longer young

reverberates left-handed calligraphy
on a slip of tissue

on a journey west
where the road cuts straight
eludes lazy kisses
the dull humming of bumble bees
dialed over the span of a mid-summer afternoon

in between dawn and twilight
on a journey north
where every look and gesture constructs desert mirages
blurs the line between land and sky

walking on a tight rope forever
denying the pulse beneath a tea-colored mole
beneath a single-minded thought—
she constructs him almost facile
with blue eyes that will humour infinitely

at the tail end of an Indian summer
on a journey south

breath rushes into sea spray
rolling over and over in her mouth
concluding in a physical embrace
of arms and sternums
insisting on the word innocence
virgin flesh marred with the easy abstraction of love

Tasnuva is a global citizen of Bengali descent who currently resides in Calgary (Canada) and grew up in the idyllic beauty of Bergen, Norway. She studied Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Engineering at the University of Calgary, and has previously published poems in Nōd Magazine, chapbooks, and a few anthologies.

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