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from the March 2020 issue

I Spat Out This Poem

The physical and spiritual worlds meld in this wide-ranging poem by Yasmeen Hameed.

I spat out this poem.
Go on, lick it
with your long tongue.
I was patient
and changed your name.
I swallowed fire
And forgot you were an ocean.
I was proud of my muddy complexion
and sniggered at the color of your blood.
I drank my own tears
and became dry like the desert.
I spent the night awake
and did not wait for dawn.
I smashed clay lamps
and burned my hand
scattering their ashes
to the seventh heaven
from which no one wishes to return.
I plucked pearls from oysters
and tossed them into the ocean
clutching fistfuls of broken glass.
Have you ever seen the color of pure blood?
No. These aren’t wounds.
I covered the wound
then filled the gash with my own flesh.
Gave away my eyes—
from the pieces of my body
made a new being.
If I were God,
I too would have infused it with life.

© Yasmeen Hameed. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by Mehr Afshan Farooqi. All rights reserved.

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