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By Fatimah Asghar

-- After Doris Salcedo

The names of my family members swirl
like dust in my lungs. I try to write about birds

& only pull from my pen animal skin.
My bones alive & a lament of dignified grief

a corpse amongst the shoes. Let's try again.
This pair belongs to my great aunt, whose name

I do not know but reminds me of the syrupy rose
milk of rhooafsa. She lived in my aunt’s story

once before disappearing. Dancing on top
a roof in Jumma, slingshot aimed at pigeons.

A burst of fire before my aunt’s sigh ended her.
This warrior woman I didn’t know existed

who I still do not know except for this one
small fact, that upon growing old she shot rocks

at birds until they died or were too scared to return.
Defender of rooftops, a candelabra of light.

My father went back to get the rest of my family
my aunt trails & I know the sentence ends

in tombstone. Each spring I cast Jasmine
sprigs to the wind & hope to call the missing

back to me. Let me be a bridge for the lost,
some weary shelter we can rest. I collect

soil from each city I live & pretend it is Jumma.
Pretend it has known the bodies of my decomposed

family, names lost to the earth. I am too scared
to return. I rub the dirt on my skin & think

about the shoes hidden in my walls, the ones
that dance around me, the orchestra of noise they sing

as I walk, all the missing begging to be found.

Added: Friday, July 24, 2015  /  Used with permission.
Fatimah Asghar
Photo by Jason Riker.

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, screenwriter and performer. She created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-violent contexts. She has performed on many stages, including the Dodge Poetry Festival, The Nantucket Project, and TedX. Her work has appeared in many journals, including POETRY Magazine, Southern Indiana Review, The Margins, The Paris-American, and PEN Poetry Series. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. Her chapbook After was released on Yes Yes Books fall of 2015. Her web series Brown Girls was released in February 2017.

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