Dhaka Dust: A Portfolio by Saqif Hossain

.Can’t occupy the same space at the same time

unless, of course, you land in Dhaka, rickshaws


five or six abreast. They are all here:

studded metal backboards ablaze with red flowers,


Heineken boxes, a Bangladeshi star with blue eyes,

peacocks, pink fans of filigree. The drivers sweat


and strain in the plaid lungis, and each face

seems to say Allah takes and Allah


gives. A woman breathes into her green shawl

against the dust on the road’s median. A man


with a plaid scarf (surplus from The Gap)

slaps the rump of a passing gray car


as though it’s a horse or a dog. You are there, too,

your maroon sleeves begin to stick


despite your deodorant. Under your orna,

a laminated map and digital camera


cradled in your lap. One strand of silver

wiry by your ear. Bits of children’s songs


snag in your windpipe. Other words surface:

sweatshop and abject poverty, and you let them.


They mix with the low rumbling that began

on the plane, ms and bs tumbling, amplified


in the streets: the rickshaw bells’ light metal,

the nasal peal of horns. On this continent,


the ocean’s giant tongue has swept away

miles of coastline, and bodies flood the water.


Dust sifts into your lungs and sinks—feline,

black, to remain long after you leave.

Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mohammad Saqif Hossain is a self-taught photographer. Currently studying mechanical engineering, Saqif started his photography journey back in 2012. His trusted mobile phone camera being his weapon of choice, he has focused on street photography and conceptual manipulation.

Wondering around the streets of Dhaka, he tries to portray the unseen within the hustle of daily life. He is also interested in filmmaking and graphic design.

This text by the Bangladeshi-American poet Dilruba Ahmed, extracted from Dhaka Dust (Graywolf Press, 2011) is reproduced from the Poetry Foundation site