This poem first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 5 (2021). The enjambments of stanza iv have been slightly altered to fit the formatting restrictions of the website.
I wanted to feel something not you
I needed an escape I slept for 15 hours
I needed an escape I left the city for a weekend
I needed an escape I placed a pink tab on my tongue
My mother strokes my hair pray the end of days are near beta
Don’t forget recite Bismillah before you—
My body is gutted he preys [deer, rabbit, fish] does not pray
tough the flesh no longer tender
Scooped out boy not yet man
Long fingers calloused palms not yours.
Spark Inhale Exhale.
Drags curling wisps of smoke the stench it lingers
Angular jaw three-day old stubble mouth inching closer also not yours.
Forgot to say Grace
But your name gospel still rises on my lips.
I dreamt about you last night but I forgot most of it. Sometimes I look down at my hands and I can’t recognize who they belong to. My Abba tells me that change is the only constant in life so I dye my hair pink but that washes out to a disappointing half-assed orange so I dye it blue but it fades to green and then blonde. How’s that for change? Change in my pocket, fistfuls of coins, maybe a lost lighter or two. I don’t know what I’m looking for but I certainly won’t find it here. I’ve been searching in all the wrong places.
Forgiveness in mouths still not yours.
The sun is coming up somewhere between here and not yet there
Kneel I am building you a shrine out of my words
Oh mother of sorrows
Madonna child, I become.
Call this redemption. Call it salvation. Call it sacrifice.
Call me sometime?
Urooj Mirza is a storyteller, writer and struggling podcaster from Karachi, Pakistan, pursuing a B.A. in English from the Lahore University of Management Sciences. She began writing at 13, when she first had the misfortune of falling in love and getting her heart broken by cities instead of strangers. You can find her on instagram @loveletterstokhi, where she writes about home, her cat and as always, Karachi.