Safekeeping hope

ma warns me about the men whom i’ve been house-hunting with,                              who’ve left my poems on by-pass                                          that i am in constant motion-sickness- mimicking the love i’ve carried around                  in cufflinks of borrowed coats                                                        in ketchup stained napkins, forgotten in coffee bars             in car keys on kitchen counters                                      in bumper stickers of my old man’s trailer

ma knows i get nosebleeds at the thought of loving abeer       so I keep him as a beloved, beloved memory bubble-wrapped in tragedies so faithful,                                         a prayer is chewed out              that ‘I write against forgetting’                          against forgetting abeer. 

abeer loved the henna on my hair                                              so he’d habitually bring freshly plucked out gulmohars                                    stolen from tauji’s farms; it was our thing.                everyday at 4 am-we’d step out, barefoot,                         have hot masala doodh in little steel tumblers.            while the slow moving winds broke a sweat in the humidity of madras                                       he’d lick the milk moustache, formed on my upper lips          and feel the heat trickling on my breast bones                        by late evenings the lighthouse would catch us fondling our chests                   at the shores of the marina. 

Ma and I have love(ed) in different timelines                  she looms over my shoulder     her sindoor; smudged              her hands; tired                        she thinks I am a lonely pod    with hope so godly that it has foregone too many bad omens                                            ma forbids me to write another urdu poem another metaphor; lost in translation

Ma knows women in love are sleepy but insomniac                 she knows a woman’s weakness is hope being homesick,                              homesick of love.                        she knows our hope doesn’t want to be left unwanted          she knows our hope licks all of our sadness, and drools in shame.                                          But my hope still stays to want to be hoped for, some day. 




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