Volume Five, Issue 3

Sarim Mehmood

Bad News

The patience of a ventilator in equivalent years
             is a lifetime.

You surfed the crash, I imagine,
whistling from crest to crest,
shoulder-first as the earth curled
             softly over your spine.

I keep dreaming of you.
You, supine in a field of wet grass,
eyes skywards, mapping all the stars.
Too many to find the exit.
All stillness secretly tailing a wheel
spinning slow on a twisted axle.

I want to think like you.
To wake up one day and realize the heat
my body held on to because
             taking roots was my choice,
just like taking flight, but only
empty things are light enough to fly.

I am afraid to speak to you.
Cold, crescent pillars of silver
hold a melon-red you,      tightly.
At a distance: legs frozen,            grey.
The sun hasn’t come for you in days.

They say you were found
still as terracotta in meshed steel,
snow descending               carefully
on iridescent ribs.

I know you did not want anything
to do with this world
but how do I say the phrase
that lets you go?
No one told me that it had to end,
that die could come from desire.

If I was in your place, what would you do?

On Losing Loss

to stand
up straight,
claim your loss
as a twin brother
your mother never
told you about, and tell
him everything that begins
with vague shadows arriving
in painted eyes, ruined bedsheets,
obscenity after a fight, airport terminals,
the second week of December when it rained,
solitude as long as a couplet, nails turning to claws,
ashtrays, two masses simultaneously on fire, sea fumes,
the ascension of birds for migration, newfound will, excitement,
the laps of young women who ask you what’s wrong but you don’t know,
half life of geography, lust for a country that can never be yours,
expectations of escape, stink of oil in sweltering car parks,
oxidized bonnets in the constantly changing streets,
menace of April on tender wrists. Everything.
All the things that hold back a clean sky.
In a dark patch, away from any road,
take a kitchen blade and sketch
wounds as wide as walls in
the skin that is allegedly
yours. Ashamed but
tall, walk back to
a world that
only you
can go

Sarim Mehmood: “I am an alumnus of the International Writing Program, University of Iowa and my works have appeared in Multitudes, The Aleph Review, and elsewhere.”

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