Shahina

Shahina

Poetry by Shahina

Dancing is one way in which I express my innermost emotion. Writing poetry is another, but the times when I feel I am truly at my best are when the two come together and I can dance my poems or write my dance.


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Most belly dancers use a special name when they dance. Usually a name is chosen for its meaning. It took me a long time to choose a name because I wanted one that fit me now, but which would still allow me to grow and change without outgrowing the name. This poem is about what being Shahina means to me.

Shahina (The Falconess)
Among the clouds
   She soars majestically;
Her russet feathers glimmer
   Bronze in the golden sunlight.
The wind is her illicit love.
   He lifts her exalted to the heavens,
And she glides gracefully through his fingers.
   Held aloft, she plays upon his currents.
The wind caresses her wings,
      her face,
         her breast.
      How glorious it is to fly!
Her all-seeing eyes penetrate the landscape.
Now the fearsome
   Mistress of the Hunt
      Prepares to dive.
Her powerful wings guide her with precision
   Toward the prize.
      The gift that she was seeking.
It is a fine gift.
   For it, he will praise her,
      sing to her,
         stroke her gently,
            feed her delicacies-
And for his love she gives him all-
   her love,
      her gifts,
         her faithfulness,
            her children,
               Even her lofty dance is for his pleasure.
She loves the Falconer,
   Still, she glories in her flight. —©2003 Shahina


For my husband— who keeps letting me fly.

The Falconer
Hooded and tethered,
   He carries her upon his arm.
Through the fields and meadows
   To their favorite place.
He looks her over lovingly
   Stroking her golden softness.
He is awed by her beauty,
   Respectful of her pride and strength.
He remembers when she was a mere fledgling.
   She has grown-
      And in proportion, so has their love.
How he has loved to watch her fly!
   Her graceful dance among the clouds
      Has filled him with awe and wonder-
But now he pauses-
   The glory of her flight fills him with dread.
      Perhaps today she will fly away.
         Unbearable the thought!
            If he keeps her hooded and tethered
               She cannot fly.
He will keep her by his side, safe and warm.
Then he remembers,
   Regretfully,
      His own joy in watching her airborne dance,
         He knows what her joy must be.
            He wishes he could fly beside her.
Then ever-so-slowly, gently,
He releases her once again.
   Off she flies!
      She circles overhead.
         Her keen eyes see the care upon his face.
They both know she will return. —©2003 Shahina


Many women who would love to belly dance keep waiting, waiting to lose weight, finish a project, find more time, etc.. The time to start loving yourself is now. The time to give yourself the gift of acceptance is now. The time to realize your dreams is now. Begin today.

Forty-Two
At 42, I look in the mirror
   I see a face that did not come off a shelf at some cosmetic superstore.
   I see a body that is my very own.
   It isn't Barbie's, but it is what I have made it each day of my life.
   And tomorrow it will be what I have made it today.
   My body has a story- no, a thousand stories.
      Every scar, every bulge, every wrinkle and line is what made me 42,
         And I love them all.
At 42, I look at myself and know I don't have to impress anyone
   I don't have time for shallow relationships anyway.
At 42, I can forgive past slights because I know the many blunders I have made myself.
At 42, I can love passionately because I know what it is to hate passionately.
At 42, I know how to succeed because I have learned how to fail.
At 42, I know that I have needs that must be met
   And I know how to meet them
   Because I have given selflessly until I thought that there was nothing left.
   And then I have found new reserves and given of those too.
At 42, I know the power of my womanhood and how to use it
   And the immeasurable price of wasting it.
At 42, I have known the unsurpassable joy of watching my very own babe suckle at my breast
   And the searing pain of losing control
      and spanking my child for some reason I can't remember.
At 42, I don't worry about whether or not I am loved
   Because I know that the love I give will always come back
   In one form or another.
At 42, I don't worry about the meaning of life
   Because I know that if I give meaning to each day
   Then meaning of the whole life will take care of itself.
At 42, I don't worry about what God is or isn't
   Or who sees God in the same way I do
   Because I see the face of God at work in my life a hundred times a day-
      In a cup of tea, in the embrace of a child,
         In the glitter of the stars, kindness of a stranger,
            In the smile of a friend, in the perfection of a flower,
               Even in a moment of painful self awareness.
At 42, I am acknowledging the yearnings of my heart
   And reconciling what I am with what I had hoped to be.
At 42, I know that only I can write the story
   And I accept that what is already written has truly been written by me.
   I read the writing and I find That some of it is pretty good.
   And I know that I can keep on writing and editing and re-writing
   Until the final word is written,
   And it doesn't have to rhyme to make it worth reading.
At 42, I know that 43 will be even better. —©2003 Shahina


How many of us long for that which we cannot have? How many of us are willing to work tirelessly for that which we desire? This poem is about commitment and effort on many levels.

Lost In The Elements

Lost in the Elements
Three elements upon the sphere, there are.
Upon the Earth stand I, firmly.
I can feel the sand shift beneath my feet.
I gaze out at the water-
A world that I do not know,
But can only gaze upon in wonder.
I remove my shoes.
The water laps my toes enticingly.
Shivers run up my legs
As I imagine the world beneath the glassy surface—
A lovely world of colors and currents,
Friends and enemies,
Pleasures and temptations.
I long to plunge in and explore,
But just in time I remember
That I cannot breathe the water.
My vision of that sparkling universe
Cannot be.
Not for me.
My feet once again upon the dry land
I see the reality.
That although I would long to dive
Deeper and deeper
I would instead gasp for breath,
Struggle for my very life,
Swallowed up by the quiet, beautiful sea.

So I stand here on the land.
It is lovely here.
All my needs are met
I love and I am beloved.
The trees shade me from the sun.
The earth pours forth an abundant sustenance
All for my enjoyment.
Life is good.

Still, a fire burns
Deep in the core of my being-
Something more-
There must be something more than this.
Deep down where my babies grew and were nurtured,
Within my breasts
Which for so many years
Sustained their bodies, hearts and souls,
A fire —
Always kindled,
Sometimes raging with pain and hunger
Cries out to be fed.

I open my eyes and see the sky.
The trees can touch it.
The birds glide gracefully through it.
The wind caresses my face,
Tousles my hair.
It blows my skirt sensuously around my legs.
The fire rages higher
And out of the fire
Rises a breathtaking winged creature.
Is it a falcon, or a Phoenix?

My feet begin to move upon the Earth.
My hips roll with the rhythm of the waves.
My arms float upon the breeze.
I drink in the wind as nourishment.

The Earth cries out, "Come Back!
Come Back, You cannot fly!"
"Hush!" say I, "I can!"
"No!" Says the Earth, "You are not a bird!"
I am not, I know,
But when I dance
I feel as though I am.
I cannot stop.
I will not stop.
I tell the Earth kindly,
"Please, let go. You have my body, be satisfied.
My soul must fly with the birds.
Must fly or perish in hell!"
This I say to the Earth,
But What I feel...
I feel my body, confused and struggling
Trying to learn the ways,
Trying to acquire the strength of a bird.
"Why try? Why try?" cries my body.
It screams in unison with the Earth,
"Give up, You have no wings!"
"Why not? Why not?" Say I.
I see my soul standing in a tiny prison cell
Rattling the bars, weeping.
The cell has no roof.
There is one way out.
I must,
I will be free.
Shahina has hatched. —©2003 Shahina


Sometimes outsiders do not respect an existing committed relationship.

The Cavalier
Like a panther he moves.
Lean and sleek, his sculpted form ripples
With his every motion.
A dazzling spectre of strength and beauty.
Dangerous he could be,
For in their awe they forget themselves.
Falling over one another,
Longing to be devoured,
Craving to forfeit everything
For the momentary thrill of knowing his power.
He observes them not,
Their flattery is wasted.
They are mere candles
Pathetically desiring to be the sun.
Only she, the sun
Can illuminate the dark recesses of his soul.
Only she can appease his hunger.
He is saving his appetite. —©2004 Shahina


To Keiko Matsui, whose music inspires me to ever greater heights–
This poem was inspired by the CD The Piano which is a favorite of mine for modern lyrical dance.

Keiko Matsui The Piano

Keiko
As the song caresses my ears
I see her in my mind's eye
Seated at her instrument
Caressing the notes from its soul,
Her fingers glide, skip and dance
Lovingly over the keyboard.
It responds to her touch in the only way it knows,
Pouring forth the sounds of heaven
Interpreted for the mortal ear.
The sight is breathtaking,
The sound is awe inspiring.
The music of angels
Touches something in the core of my being
And I have to dance.
The music is in me
Now happy, now sad,
Now hopeful, now dark and brooding,
It lifts my body and moves me
In ways I did not know I could move.
I see her at the piano
That once was a tree.
They are bathed in a purple light
That glows from within her.
She and the piano are one.
The light grows.
When I dance I feel the purple light
Enveloping me as well.
I want the light to grow and grow
Until we are all a part of it
And maybe all will be well. —©2004 Shahina


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