Trafalgar Square at 3 am waiting for a bus home
Wearing a jacket too big for me
Strangely enough the collar still smells like you
Of your trust
It’s easier to pretend it’s not the sleeves
But the ghost of your arms that are shielding me from
The midnight breeze
When the bus comes
I feel a little warmer
Every time I say your name
Flowers bloom in my lungs
Invisible fingers curl around my spine
Butterfly wings beat hurricanes in my
The pressure is so strong
You could shove your hand down my
Pull out diamonds.
My name in my language
Rolls off the tongue like liquid silk
Music on the ridges of the palette.
But in your language it’s the
Violent scraping of teeth
All wrong and aggressive.
Isn’t it strange;
I only ever love my name
When you say it.
You’re not a fire
That burns bright for an instant
Only to be snuffed out by time.
You’re a flood.
And God how I want to float in your waters
And drink the life that pours out of your mouth till I too
Become a flood
And sink the world in life.
Something as self-contained
As a storm in a teacup
Remains in equilibrium
So long as no one
Asks for a cup of tea.
I wash the sin from my hair at dawn
With rose water and the last remnants of moonlight.
I scrub my feet with rags dipped in milk and yesterday’s prayers.
I have sandalwood incense sticks for fingers,
Braided coconut husks for ribs,
And jasmine blooms for a womb.
Swirling mandalas trace themselves on my thighs in fine ash,
Bright vermilion pours from my parted lips.
The fire is stoked with charcoal and cinnamon in my belly,
The bells are silent in my throat,
Waiting for the ritual to begin.
Qamash tied around my ankles
Pulls my legs apart.
This is where you come to pray.
They came on ships
With horses and gunpowder they stole from the neighbours.
They stood in rows of red,
fresh wounds carved into our backs with garden rakes.
They made us serve them on our dining tables
With forks made of braided veins and splintered bone.
(They didn’t know we ate with our hands).
They strangled us with collars,
Turned us into their guard dogs
And set us loose against each other.
They split our house down the middle with a pen.
Was my grandfather’s blood.
How easy it was for them
To put a hand into our home
And pull out the honeycomb, still sticky with our pride and will and gold.
It is no wonder
The bees learned how to sting.
– I wish we had learned too.
it rolls off the tongue like
honey drips from the hive
like it was meant to be there
sentences strung sideways
foreign to my mind yet familiar to my heart
a single word conveying all of my
yet there is no one to hear
plane tickets, cities coloured on a map,
a promise made in our youth,
a business deal,
a passing word on the sidewalk
between strangers –
this is how our quest
The butterflies in my stomach
Have wing-beats like hurricanes.
My eardrums feel thunder-struck
As the echo remains.
Sometimes the pressure is so high
You could shove your hand
Down my throat and
Pull out diamonds.