A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Sophia Naz is an Asian-American author who writes in both Urdu and English. She has been anthologized worldwide, in both print and online journals including Poetry International Rotterdam, The Adirondack Review, SCROLL, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Daily O, BlazeVOX, The Stonecoast Review, Cactus Heart, Askew Poetry, Bank Heavy Press, Spilled Ink, Lantern Journal, Convergence Antiphon Poetry UK, AAJ, The Sunflower Collective, AntiSerious, Zubaan Journal, The Ghazal Page among others. Her debut collection of poetry, Peripheries, was published in September 2015. Pointillism, her second book of poetry is due to be published in June 2017. Links to her published works can be found at www.trancelucence.net (link). She tweets @sophiapandeya (link)
The Gulabi Guavas of Allahabad and Other Poems
The Gulabi Guavas of Allahabad
You came to this confluence
The hawker in Civil Lines
The first time he flayed
Your ears ripened early in the glare of the clucking. Reminded constantly that merely being alive was no less than a miracle. Because fourteen hundred years ago you would have been. Buried alive. And how is that different from this you wanted to blurt. But held your tongue. Bitten and hidden like everything else.
It is always and only them. Because they rule the roost. Your father and brother and gangly male cousins and their Adam-appled friends. Allowed to express their hungers. For them the choice cuts, the breasts and legs and for you the throttled neck. So crisply twisted and snapped at the butcher’s.
One time you won a wish bone. Along with it a pitying look. Siblings belonged to other countries. You had an immediate overlord. Nonetheless you slept with a bone like an incomplete heart. An interrupted sentence under your tear-damp pillow. What was the talisman meant to do? The next morning the sheets were stained with blood. You were eleven years old.
The trees are forbidden. As is the cricket match on the street. As is running in the lawn. Because who will be watching. There is always someone watching. The world is made of eyes. You are made of cotton and pause. Day is made of fullstops. Nights are off the record.