She tied her shawl, saffron red,
tasseled at the ends, to the
bumper of a rickshaw and
watched it go, like blood through
Pakistan sky bending over,
as if in prayer, as if to cup its hands
and whisper into them, “Love my
people, kiss my children.”
Mama smells like alleyway shisha smoke
and equator summer and paprika.
I am three. Learning to walk.
Learning the cobblestone braille
of these streets. Skinning my knees,
Peshawar is province frozen
in goodbye. I remember it as the place
I wanted to go home to, remap the
valleys of. Walk along the path
Mama used to take to school.
A hundred and forty kids.
Bent beneath desks. Air tastes
like metal, like iron. Saffron runs
through cracks in the floor.
Pakistan sky clenches its teeth.
Pakistan sky bites its tongue.
The rickshaws seem to cut their
engines all at once.
Pakistan sky lead heavy, like whistle
lost between lips, like shawl loosening
from bumper, trampled and beaten,
like a nation shedding its shards
after a day of target practice.
By Ramna Safeer
Ramna Safeer is a pre-Law English Lit student. She is a writer, blogger, researcher, activist and perpetual coffee-spiller. Her poetry has been previously published in The ASUS Undergraduate Review, Atwood Mag and Words-on-Pages Magazine. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, New Canadian Media and The Queen’s Journal, where she works as the Editorials Editor. She is the founder and blogger at CherishChai.com, an online space that maps her journey to recapture her Pakistani, Muslim heritage.