December Offerings/Not Karachi
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CARLA PELOSOFF
Christmas lights hung on
the icy lobes of trees,
and the frosted skin of a darkened river
Nighttime mosquito fest by the Charles,
then the burning red halo on each shin as keepsake.
Sheet after sheet of blue rain.
And the sudden gray geometry of a building I could never name —
Still, I’ll choose to stay.
Pandemic Car Crash/Pictures Of Us
The night you sent me a broken
voice message, told me you crashed your car
into a white Corolla at the Shujat crossing
and woke up someplace else, small and afraid,—
I looked at pictures of us for hours.
It was 3 AM and darkness was a quilt so heavy,
morning seemed impossible.
When light came, finally, I sent you a box of doughnuts.
You sent back a picture of the lemon-meringue one,
yellow curd spilled everywhere, sunlight suspended —
‘yum favourite flavor!!!’
I couldn't stop looking at those three exclamation marks,
thin pixel trees glowing blue on my phone screen —
their perfect, rounded endings
Stubborn proof of your small, sweet life.
It’s through the window that the neighbors’ violin
leaks in, Hallelujah on a Sunday.
It’s through the window that I watch her
cut his hair, and through the window
that I watch the hair
float through the steps of
the fire escape and fall
to the ground, black
smoke curling into a green sea.
She laughs as she snips
and this glass skin
between us is
useless, so thin
I can hear everything,
clear as shard.
It’s through the window that the light comes in,
then doesn’t —
At night’s twelfth hour,
I watch myself in the mirror, scissors in hand,
black snow descending slowly into the sink,
the day’s long photographs finally
snipped off my head.
Manal Ahmed is a writer from Karachi, Pakistan. She currently lives in Boston.