remote

Sandal Soles - Medieval Art @ MET

she knows a person she’s never touched yet

physically

just a soul she’s encountered from afar

someone with moods and likes and jokes and heart ache

same station, opposite platform,

a breathing figure

not reaching out for anything,

just waiting for something good to come by,

just like she is.

so they’re both just sitting here (and there)

with vague ideas about things etc.

one stands up to get a snack from the vending machine,

the other thinks that maybe she’ll do the same.

melancholic, yet nothing close to it.

she knows what it’s like to be alone in a small place,

yet certainly not lonely everywhere.

there’s someone else, quite like her, quite like.

both just wonder what the other would do

if the platforms were to merge into a great hall,

but feed that thought no further.

why-cause the separation is the wait

for a carriage to take each one

where they’re meant to go.

the divide assumes no company is needed

for any distance, for any while.

so the passengers sit where they are,

waiting to board a train,

both turn their heads to the sound

of a fog horn.

right there on those rail tracks that isolate the platforms,

is an anchoring ship.

Advertisements

tumblr_ofl1uzGvgl1r6fbqzo1_1280

 

i’m a mess these days

and these days are melting away

like candles on the back porch

in the heat of july

 

it’s only june still

i’ve leaped ahead of myself

i’ve made notes and revised

and welcomed the crippling fear a few weeks early

 

it comes with perks, the subconscious montage,

it comes with the tune for a morbid little lullaby :

 

who will die, who will die in july

father, step father, friend, feline?

who will die, die and die,

in stationary,

somber, arid july?

 

 

 

tumblr_ofiscrKwXf1uo0kw8o1_1280

“Nurse, hand me the scalpel.”

Mumtaz scowled, wiped her dripping brow and handed her brother the letter opener she stole from her Big Mama’s trunk of of important things.

“Why do you always get to be the doctor?”

It didn’t make sense and it certainly wasn’t fair that after stealing the letter opener and killing the gecko with her own hands, even being careful not to squish it’s vital organs, Shine got to be the surgeon.

“Don’t distract me, I’m concentrating.”

If her mother was around, she would say, “Because boys are not supposed to be sissy nurses.” and that would be the end of that conversation. Thankfully, her mother was away on some mysterious errand, wearing her best dress. Big Mama was at the hospital too and all the other less significant adults in the house were away. Her father brought over their cousin Shine after school on Friday evening so he could spend the weekend with them. Mumtaz and her older sister Nawty never understood why they had to play with Shine during the weekends. He was less their cousin and more their very distant cousin. Mumtaz didn’t verbally complain about him though, because only he was up to playing what she wanted to play, things Nawty would never indulge in. But that day, under the merciless scorch of the July afternoon sun, Mumtaz was losing her patience just standing around and being the nurse. Especially because Shine didn’t have the stealth or strength to wack a pillow at the wall to kill an unsuspecting gecko.

She heard Shine tsk.

“What?”

“It’s too small. The insides are too small. We should have caught a frog.”

“I told you we should have used one of Mama’s big safety pins!”

“Let’s catch a frog!”

He’d already let the letter opener fall to the ground, as he looked up at his sister from a squatting position, squinting at the harshness of the sun’s rays. He was the most ridiculous surgeon Mumtaz ever saw. When she accompanied her Big Mama at the hospital, she saw real surgeons, ladies and even gentlemen who took babies out of mothers. And when she asked if that man was a nurse, to which her Big Mama nonchalantly nodded her head, Mumtaz was elated with a wisdom she knew her own mother did not possess.

“No. It’s too hot. I’m going inside!”

As she made her way back into their small front yard she heard Shine yell, irritation and rejection in his voice.

“You’re so black anyway, the sun has already roasted you!”

Mumtaz ignored her stupid cousin brother. He thought that if he used the kind of insults that the adults used on her, he would seem superior. It never prickled Mumtaz because she was sure of how clueless he was. If she were less thirsty, maybe she would have yelled back.

“Go back to your own house! We don’t want you here! You are not our real brother!”

But those thoughts crumbled away in the dry heat when she entered their small home and saw the clay pot lidded with a stainless steel plate. She licked her lips thinking of how cool the water was in there.

“Nawty?”

Mumtaz thought her sister was inside the house, reading as she often does on the weekends. But their weekends have changed since Nawty turned thirteen. She started to accompany her mother on trips to heaven knows where. They returned late in the evening, somehow, just before Big Mama returned from the hospital. Mumtaz took big painful gulps of the cool water as she tried to imagine where Mama and Nawty could be off to all day. She was a little jealous too.

Her meditation was grossly interrupted by a painful jab around her mouth. Shine had pushed the steel cup towards her face to wake her from her concentration, thereby gracefully sending Mumtaz into a coughing fit while she flailed her arms in an attempt to smack her brother – cousin brother.

“What the hell is wrong with you!”

A question best left unanswered, she thought as she used the sleeve of her blouse to wipe her face. So she asked a more valid question.

“Why does Dada even bring you here? Don’t you have other brothers and sisters you can play with at the Kalubowila house?”

Shine took his own cup of water and sat down cross legged on the cool cement floor, with his back to the ageing wall. He knew the answer to her question. He’d recently overheard a conversation Mumtaz’s father had with his mother. Well, the woman he thought was his mother. His new mother, the one he learned about recently, the real one apparently, was currently off with his oldest sister, somewhere, heaven knows where. Shine really enjoyed coming over to play with Mumtaz and even more now, since he found out that they were real brother and sister. She was annoying but he got to be the boss of the all games, whereas at the Kalubowila house, he had many older brothers and sisters who took turns being the boss.

Still, he liked living in the Kalubowila house. It was big and he always got food to eat and tea with biscuits in the evenings. Here on Fuzzels Lane, food was constantly sparse and as much as he enjoyed nicking his sisters’ food right off their plates, his stomach was never completely full. Never full enough to take a long nap after lunch. Worse than that, he knew that the only real nice person in this house was Big Mama. He’d seen the scars and marks on Mumtaz’ face and arms. He knows that those are what happens to any child who is at this house on the unfortunate night that either Big Papa or Mumtaz’ father comes home drunk. He’d only overheard the stories from the mouths at the Kalubowila house but when he came over one Friday evening to Fuzzels Lane and saw the gash on Mumtaz’ neck and the glowing red lines on her skinny arms, his fears were confirmed. So every Sunday evening, even though he was a little sad, he was mostly relieved to be going back home to his first mother. The one who cares for him and feeds him. The one who has never pulled a belt on him.

“You should just stay in Kalubowila where you belong.”

Maybe she was right. He certainly didn’t want to belong in Fuzzels Lane even if Mumtaz’ parents were also his parents. What did it matter anymore, his sisters would never believe it. Mumtaz would roll around on the ground, clutching her ribs with laughter if he ever told her. He decided to change the subject.

“What time are Big Papa and your Dada coming back?”

He saw his sister retreat from herself. She stood up from sitting on the kitchen chair and slinked to her Big Mama’s tiny bed, where she felt safe from this question.

“How should I know?”

She turned away from him and started to pick at something on the cream colored bed sheet. Shine realized he asked the wrong question in an innocent attempt to argue about something else. The two of them knew and somehow didn’t know that they had far too much to hurt each other with even though they were only eleven and twelve years old.

Curve, color, repeat

 

Purple. That is what I think the color of ripples are. I don’t know what purple is the way people know what purple is, neither am I familiar with blue, as water is described.But if the ripple of water must have a color, it has to be purple.

I was born from the curse of denatured alcohol, completely blind. Mama has been put away for the knots in her mind. I was also put away for the very same knots many years ago. Since then, I have tried to stay afloat.

Water caresses the thickness of my skin. When I am submerged, the cold fluid embraces the tire rings of my belly, the miles of stretch marks starting from my ass to my well cushioned carpels and all of my chins. I have never seen what I look like, yet being in water is what it’s like to those who seek rewards in mirrors.

My reflection is a bright white. White reflects all colors is the word on the street. I curve into myself, fetal position and uncurl repeatedly, but very slowly. The curve of the curves on my bones will go on curving until I am infinite. There is no trajectory as light bounces off my vessels and veins, hairs and nails, all the colors, slowly and one by one. I am the disco ball in the salty ocean. And since I have no memory of a moon or a sun, I challenge them to match my brightness.

He and his loud friends called me an old walrus when we were all 12. So here I am, I came to the ocean. I met the tide and her waves, and now there is nothing else to hear.

The ocean rumbles and belches, just like I do.

Red.

The ocean gets nervous, starts to think in strong currents, the way I do when I’m alone, and when I’m not.

Orange.

The ocean shivers and shakes and dances to songs of the winds much like the way I can’t help but try to bend, blend, bend in.

Yellow.

The ocean has a bed that goes deeper and deeper and gets softer and softer to stand on. The recesses of my mind and the tunnels in my heart, they start like hot sand and end like cold silt. A little more refined, more knowing.

Green.

The ocean has a temperament that I feel I can match because nobody can see the way I see. They only see what they see.

Blue.

The ocean is fierce on the surface, but once my ears feel the pressure of water, the mighty sea and I sigh and sigh together. We celebrate joy and loss, the subtleties together.

Indigo.

The ocean is all that is there for the ocean. I am all I have too.

Violet.

Where is the purple? It’s somewhere between indigo and violet, somewhere far from sandy shores, miles under water, between my jiggly thighs, behind my hazy cornea, somewhere ensconced in safety. It is also loud and defiant, resonating from the hairs all over my body, making the water ripple. Small ripples first, then waves. Those ripples are purple. Only the blind can see that purple.

 

~fin~

 

Burning winds

farahfilasteen:

Sebastia near Nablus, Palestine

“Careful, Samaya. You will burn the naan if you let it sit too long. Flip it now!”

Samaya flipped the flat dough in the furnace obediently and sighed. Her ammi knew all too well, how impatient her oldest child was. What the twelve year old wouldn’t give to run off and join the boys racing their bicycles in the next community. Samaya never cared that her parents would never afford a brand new bicycle. Her friends would share theirs because Samaya was almost faster than the speediest of the juvenile lot.

“You shouldn’t be playing with boys anymore, Samaya. This is not the age for that.”

“You will bleed soon, you are taking a big risk by racing with them. You will understand my words when your body begins to change.”

“You think they are your friends now, but wait and see how they look at you, how they speak to you when you have breasts, when your hips show.”

“Your father disapproves, Samaya. He will be angry if he finds out you’ve been over there again. Your father disapproves. So does your grandmother.”

Ammi didn’t really want to say all those things to her daughter, so vibrant, competitive, adventurous, living the dreams she dreamed as she slept soundlessly. She didn’t want to take away the innocence of play time, the drive to run off, keep running, running. Teaching her how to mix and knead the dough, roll it out and put it on the flame, this was tradition. Samaya understood that too. But there was always times for making naan, it was made every single day. It wasn’t every evening that the boys took their cycles out. Samaya was angry at her father, she knew it was he who choreographed this. He and her grumpy grandmother who stayed in bed all day, never lifting a finger. Ammi was an angel. She only chastised Samaya as she ran off, never before. So Samaya sacrificed an evening of cold biting winds knocking the cotton dupatta off her head and ruffling her curls as she sped down hill, weaved around potholes and made hair pin turns.

The neighborhood gossips twittered about Samaya, fashioning her out to be a whore in the making, craving the company and attention of young boys at such a fertile age. Samaya and her ammi jaan knew they were lies, words for the hens to chew on, instead of paan. Only the truth hurt Samaya, however. These four boys had already begun to look at her through different eyes. Not because Samaya was changing, but because they were. Their shoulders broadened, their hips looked narrow, their voices deepened, the hair on their faces thickened, their hands turned rough as their touched lingered.

Of course they weren’t malignant, none of them.Their bodies were only morphing, puzzling their spirits, setting the stage for new discovery. Samaya made this day about recalculation. She can decide to oppose the wishes of the snarky old woman and her son, continue seeking the rush of racing on two wheels in the face of the setting sun. Or she could realize that these days will end, and at the end she wanted to have her own bicycle. If she were to acquire one by herself, with her own earnings, no one could take her joys away from her. Not the warble of society, not the furrows of her family, not even the sense of belonging in the adjacent neighborhood. She would have a choice. She could do both. Race the chill winds in the afternoon and then snuggle beside the furnace, breathing in the smell of butter spreading on the warm naan.

She looked at ammi. Her old eyes, older hands punching the ball of dough, pulling, rolling, balling some more. Samaya turned to the pile of freshly cooked bread, broke off a piece, blew onto it and leaned over to her mother, interrupting the process.

“What-“

Ammi took the food into her mouth, felt Samaya’s long fingers cover her hand and heard a voice full of assertion.

“Don’t worry ammi. It will not burn.”