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September 25, 2014 | Poetry

Three Poems

Tarfia Faizullah

Three Poems photo

The Hidden Register of Submission

(Guilt)

I loose the purple ribbon
from my hair and fling it
into a corner.

I can’t bear that no one
touches me and learn
to plumb

(ego)

myself. I flower between
in-betweens: shadows
I pick my way out of,

struggling between doorway
and hallway,
between tongue and kisses

(devotion)

too hungry to stay put.
You should never have
agreed to be a god

for me if you were afraid
to assume
the duties of a god—

(absolution)

the cigarettes I begin to smoke
then put out because they do nothing
to summon any demon willing

to press me into some shape of being.
Submit before Him, on all fours
press your forehead low,

(absolution)

cover yourself, cover thighs,
throat, hollows of your calves, impertinent
bones of your arms, cover

hips unmarked by hands,
palimpsest of your back,
cover up, cover up, cover, up,
cover collarbones, untongued—
now dry those tears, tie

(absolution)

the purple ribbon in your hair, the headscarf tight.


 

The Hidden Register of Hunger

(Selfishness)

to touch the soft aperture
between a sleeping man’s
shoulder blades—

(ubiquitous)

like graves, like the seams
of stockings men skim
their hands down the length of,

searching for the memory
of the first ancient feeling
they ever had. It is too easy

(hollowness)

to laugh in bed with a new
lover at the same joke,
and know energy

always precedes matter,
but why hunger then,
in the begging children’s bodies, thin

and dark? Why angel before
serpent, why plucked rib
before desire? Here,

someone holds both ends
of their spine in their hands.
Here, olives spooned

(greed)

into a clay bowl, these daily
rituals we believe we are owed.
O arrogant, tongue-slung, leaf-

broad, oceanrun closets of our
lives, in which we assume we can leave

(timelessness)

a bare lightbulb burning.
Time pours starfish into the sky

for us to grasp between thumb
and forefinger, and still we don’t
learn. O tendons of our unbearable

hands. Oh maa, oh maa, maa,
and what else can anyone do
with a knife but learn

(replenishing)

to part flesh from stone?

 

Consider the Hands Once Smaller

It is like this. The night is lonely
until it isn’t. You bite your tongue

after eating orange rubbed with chili
before wishing for a kiss

from the man whose fingertips
unearth the softness in you.

We tell each other the names
of our dead. The cities we live in

are gnawing then burying
the cadavers of opulent dreams.

We tell each other to dream.
When you send me pictures

you’re collecting of women
in your family smiling, I unhinge.

It is like this. The night is our hair
inking the torsos of men into reliquaries.

I don’t know why we don’t know our own holiness,
but once you were a young girl, and so was I.

image: Andromeda Veach


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