Three Found Poems: Virginia Woolf's The Waves

Nazifa Islam


Rid of Effulgence

I see the moon—flickering, broken
leaning against 
the sky—and am afraid.

I am a girl among men and women
robed in beauty but
without faces. Their tongues

cut; I am derided. Is there an end
to these knives? I lie
I stammer, I am on the verge
of twitching.

I am composed of scorched sea
foam and fire.
I am like a ribbon of weed.

When will I be 
flung to the uttermost
edge of the world?

The Night is Rapt

I am roaming through the forest—plunging
through branches
pierced with arrows—and I feel uneasy.

The night is crowded with beasts and thorns.
All my senses are taut as the smell of violets
breaks over me and beckons.

I feel guilty and cold. Beneath the black boughs
I see moths rearing
among flashing yellow lights

and I hear a nightingale
sing. Blistered 
by its red melody, I reel.

The darkness has broken me.
The crack in my body 
is screaming.

With Anticipation

This is an incredible place: oppressive
and red in its intensity.

Every moment in this abolished world
is unreal. Light glares its hostility

and metal flowers quiver with cold.
I do not have a normal body

here; I have lost the appearance of
somebody whole and only feel

a prickly blankness. This morbid place
sharpens my indifference—so I cut

people open with a knife-blade
to see a flash of their wavering

being, to see them
undergo transformation. I know

now that there is extraordinary
pleasure in cruelty.