By HERA NAGUIB
Tonight, I halt to prior ghosts
that upwell again, funerary as the sirens
that shrill through the tracheal alleys.
When I tell F., he says, this is America—
what you leave for her claims you back.
Yes, the fountain veil loping
over the ribbed Red Sea I wanted
to shiver to a whisper as a girl.
Yes, little caskets of Himalayan
pine nuts I thumbed each sulfurous winter.
It’s true I’ve buried all the cities I’ve called home
in some lacquered erstwhile ache.
How easily I’ve worn
the sky’s feigned amnesia & throbbed
tedious, as the landscape outside
where each evening, the same rangy cat
licks the fungal pool in the balding grass.
What, truly, would I give for repose: to belong?
To breathe inconspicuous as a dab
on a box Mother clamps over the still humid
dinner across that eastern hemisphere
where night slinks into every
familiar katora and spoon hollow?
Everywhere, contagion shreds
being to a minimal question.
The answer ferments, unspoken &
hung over the open bracket of sleep.
On the news, grounded airplanes
heckle me with their snouts.
The earth teethes coffins en masse.
For days, the mind, a fugitive,
seeks to slink from its atlas of disquiet.
For days, I touch no one.
I let hours thaw on my nape
and outstare a ceiling stain
till it sips from my affliction.
Hera Naguib is a Pakistani writer who was raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Toronto, Canada. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Academy of Poets’ Poem-A-Day, The Cincinnati Review, Gulf Coast, and World Literature Today, among other publications. Her website is HeraNaguib.com.