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A Second Coming
How must she appropriate her loneliness, up there on the moon, I wondered.
What happens to her when the sun comes up, or when the moon is a sliver
in the sky, nothing but the curved arc of a pearly worm?
On clear nights long ago, with the moon squatting fatly, I traced the parabola of her back.
The spokes of her spinning wheel sat still, awaiting more yarn. I saw her stealing stars
to weave thread as light as the scent that lives only in the crook of a new baby’s neck.
Sometimes she would turn away from the wheel, her face in her palms.
Her body must have heaved, but she was too far for me to discern the movement, or the anguish.
But mostly, I forgot she was even there.
For years, she visited my dreams, her woolly grey hair spilling around her face, unspooling at her feet.
The moon was always a rustic old cottage, smelling of pine and lemongrass and coconut oil.
She was at her spinning wheel, perpetually suspended in the moment of rest between actions.
I saw her again last night, when the moon looked like a heavy melon. I was rattled
by that mingled scent of my dreams and the knowledge of having seen her flayed open with grief.
She was suddenly there again, my old companion, after being gone these many years.
The Anatomy of Loneliness
The fine wrinkles, like crazing on a china teapot,
the dimpled flesh of your thighs —
who are you, why do you live
so fiercely for other people
And who is lately present
in the protraction of your breath,
you are hypnotized by shadows —
someone else’s measured voice
escaping a new mouth, a familiar angle
of the jaw, something old reminiscent
in the contrived neatness of this stranger’s hair
You’ve seen all this before,
maybe even loved it many times over,
who looks at you — eyes alighting over your face
for the sake of your face
and over your body for the sake of your body,
who asks where and how much it hurts
Isn’t everything about traveling back
to the expectant quiver of wings inside your belly,
the giddy weight of a secret in your chest,
to something gone,
something ended, a little forgotten
“Untitled” by Zainab Zulfiqar. 2018. Digital Photograph.