— Qudsia Akhtar


It is a map.
The lines will lead
and I will follow
its fibrous threads
the intricacies
of my world.

Fingerprint ridges
forming valleys,
palm lines colliding.

There are mountains,
rivers, each bend, aged,
heavy with memory.

The fine brush depicts
a marigold garden
and the simpering smile
of the woman struck
with a quiet enchantment
of flowers and their perfume.

in a poised painting,
in a sealed existence,
in a faraway land.

I imagine
the soft of her hand.
Could she be me, unified,
in this recreation
of the past?

I cannot read
this map,
stretch my body
to build bridges,
to balance on my back
the treasures of which
I have no knowledge.

Holding out my palms,
I cannot read me.

East, south, north, west.
Mountain, river, forest, town.
Borders, entrances.
These are the boundary lines.

I see the sea.
I turn to me confined:
in this doorless room,
in this writer’s womb,
in the quiet of the dark.

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