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‘Moments’ by Ayesha Raees​

— Nix Thérèse

I love a good slow build of images, and the construction here, across one stanza, feels seamless, though not without a few barbs. After the tasbeeh breaks into “ninety-nine beady reflections,” the mother “records her finds in burnt matchsticks” and tries to “find sleep in the ash.” The beads rolling away like wayward eyes feels so charged: divorcing them from their line of string breaks the prayer-like repetition, your voice and the continued slide of finger unable to lull your mind into deeper connection with a greater spirit. So when the mother tries to track all she’s found so far and make the ash into a new kind of spell, it’s easy to mourn this communion with her. Yet when she holds the child tight enough that the heat of the embrace “goes through” them, it again reminds me that her body makes the impression. The beads are just the vehicle for the longing already inside, one so strong that it can warm a body from the outside in.

I love how a “moment” here is another concept of fracture. Time breaks into small pieces, much like an intact tasbeeh. Universes split one way then the other: “I clayed / together a flower pot / so we could hold in it / our garden if it ever / bloomed” & “I came home to find / the pot cradling a tiny / hospital with walls / so empty I doubted / I was ever born.” The first brings us the hope that, in a landscape where almost everything is decimated besides this mother-child relationship, there can be growth that spawns outward. But the second ensnares even the child and pulls them from this universe, leaving just the mother scrambling for purchase of beads. I find it tenuous to sit between the crawl of creation beyond themselves and the slow erasure that makes the world cave in on itself. How does one rock between expansion and collapse? How do you grasp what seems so ready to slip away from the hand? In this way, fracture into lesser pieces doesn’t mean “digestible.” Rather, each takes on a significance when separated from the others, a new tally to be noted.