QASIDA FOR MY FATHER’S GHOST IN MY FLORIDA ROOM
Behind the pine grove, my Panhandle blooms
with rage. I pop pills, walk to last night’s chair
where you sat murdered in your blue pathani.
Last night, you bowed your head— never to sing
again, not in the reyaz of our house,
where we laced Ghazals. Last night you bowed
your head, an accordion strap over your shoulder.
Sometimes, I conjure the faces of your
murderers. It begins with your fingers
tapping on the harmonium, tak tak tak tak
until an echo of revenge vibrates
on my fingertips. My eyes can’t make you
into clay, can’t make a body a body,
again, a heart, a nose, like yours. Your story
didn’t flash across the evening news, didn’t find
eternity in a Youtube clip. I am six
and feel your shirt against my cheek. I am curling
your hair between my thumb and forefinger,
combing it over your face, laughing.
The palmetto tree in my rear-view mirror
looks nothing like your shadow.
By Huma Sheikh
Huma Sheikh is a doctoral fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Callaloo, William Joiner Institute (UMass Boston), University of Massachusetts at Amherst, East-West Center, Hawaii, she has studied literary nonfiction with Christina Thompson at Harvard, and worked as a journalist in India, China, and the United States. She was the Assistant Online Editor for the Southeast Review, Fiction Screener for Orison Books, Stringer and Reporter for Plain Talk weekly and Ka Leo newspapers in South Dakota and Hawaii. The winner of the Adam M. Johnson Fellowship, Charles Gordone Award, and the Dean’s award for Outstanding Academic Performance and the award for Excellence in English at Long Island University, Huma is currently at work on her memoir and poetry book. Her work has appeared and forthcoming in Consequence Magazine, Arrowsmith Journal, The Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, and others.