(Back and Forth)
ILLUSTRATION BY MAE EADE
I dance for attention while you sleep, dad,
the souls of my feet
graze your back like irons,
with an impish fire.
You sleep on your tummy like me,
an iceberg floating in hospital scrubs,
their blueness numbs the father in you.
My weight shifts, now you are a dinghy
deserted at sea, still not talking to me,
still transplanting the heart on my sleeve
to some silverfish you think needs it more.
I drag you by my baby toe back into the world,
My heels soliloquize what only bodies can discern,
I dig them in to print the headlines into your sinews.
Snore once if you are listening.
The swell of a half-snore and I nod on stilts of promise,
With arms like wings I rise so high the ceiling hits,
It sounds like applause, throbbing applause!
The empty bedroom holds its breath.
I shuffle into a daydream.
We are at a party
anchored to a newspaper,
It folds and folds
The way feet collapse and arches fall,
With keen jeopardy,
but we hold on
a steady correspondence,
even when it dwindles to the size of a stamp,
a stamp-sized world,
you cannot flee for a hospital emergency.
My ankles touch on the narrow of your back,
Now there is a bridge
We dance across.
Zahra Hamdulay studies Comparative Literature at University College London. She is currently working on relaunching The Missing Slate magazine.