Your august birth, my taking oath as an American, were only weeks apart.
The most I can remember is your rocking to a dull ache before we were apart.
Our hill was plush, the whole place soaked up the scent of raisin pulao. On
the last day of July the umbilical cord was cut, yet still we were barely apart.
I had sworn to bear arms for this country. A cat prowled between the young
apple tree and dry lobelia; camouflaged, I couldn’t tell her parts apart.
I acted mother first when I frantically covered you, half-dreaming you were
the tender bird of prey and a feline form was the country of which I was a part.
Bear arms? Kill like a predator? In other dreams I bore you through the cold months,
through snow in Julian, rain in Sedona. Not for a single minute were we apart.
Added: Monday, July 14, 2014 / From "Kohl & Chalk" (Poetic Matrix Press, 2013). Used with permission.
Shadab Zeest Hashmi is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry for Baker of Tarfia—a book based on the history of interfaith tolerance in Al Andalus (Muslim Spain). Her work has been included in the Seeds of Peace concert with the award-winning Al Andalus Ensemble, in the film Cruzando Lineas: Crossing Lines, and has been translated into Urdu by Pakistan Academy of Arts and Letters. She has presented her series of poems and photographs titled "Across the Windowsill" at San Diego Museum of Art. She has served as an editor for the annual Magee Park Anthology and the online journal MahMag World Literature and has taught as a visiting professor in the MFA program at San Diego State University. She has published her poetry and prose in numerous journals worldwide and represents Pakistan on UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry.