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kulsoom in the springtime and other poems

by Mina Malik

kulsoom in the springtime

i think she’s in love.
the foghorn in her throat has dulcified to
a voice

she writes secret poetry in a
secret diary (those new-year insurance
company faux leather ones with
     world maps and country codes
she’ll never use)
and carries a face with angles softened
like a finger on pencil lines

if she wasn’t her blocky lead-foot self
she might float

i spy on her from behind my
monitor. she’s drawing
oblong petals with a loose hand.

sabr, shukar

the root of sabr: an aloe plant, 
tenacity in a desert, doggedness 
to survive in: 

patience and perseverance: be that lone fleshy stem, 
clutching sand. be that shapeless form, oozing succor 
to the burned, the wounded. heal and calm all 

but you.  

root desperately in soil not earth at all. 
between heat that would kill you and land that fights you, 


be grateful for the privilege. others are dead,
others are maimed and destroyed. have sabr. 
you are crippled only on the inside. 

be proud of what you have made in this loveless,  
shadeless desert. it could have been worse. 
who misses an unknown paradise? 

shukar : “it could be worse”. 
the clang of gratitude 
turns the air electric with suspicion. 

worse than? the list is predictable, 
the list is wearily known:  
          lock you in the house even though your father is dying 
          watch you bleed out his baby but lock you in the house 
          too-tight wrist grabs 
          no money 

and so forth. be thankful. shukar.  

thank the gods who watch you that you are alive. shukar. 

meditate with crystals, you are unbruised. shukar. 

say it enough times, and you’ll believe it. shukar.
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