QASIDA FOR MY MOTHER
I think of Mother hobbling to the shore not on New York’s
Oakland Lake where I run and the buses pass. OM spray painted
on bus stop windows, next to LGBTQ posters.
They might as well be mandalas on telephone poles. Ibadah
Mother would say. I wonder if the boy who tacked them there
has the same feelings Mother does about the crows on top
of the telephone poles around her house fattened on cumin, staple rice?
Still I can’t see her. I run past the Asians, the Hispanics,
the Whites and the Blacks, like a memory’s pebble, a bullet skittering
East toward Kashmir’s Jhelum,
a war-fed river running down from the mountains,
me strapped on Mother’s curving buttocks,
the safe hold of a shikara-boat oar,
splashing past the streams.
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.