QASIDA FOR A VISION OF GRENADES THAT SHAKES LOOSE MY BODY
Of gliding birds in the sky, words out of print.
Kashmir, you taught me to say yes ma’am, no sir,
thank you, even to the middle school teacher
who cut my bangs against my will. Kashmir, your hands,
stroked calm around my bangs. There. There. There.
Your voice like a bitten tongue. Like a misspent grenade.
I breathed through this latest assault.
Kashmir, your swinging Chinar leaves of my childhood,
embers of my hair, even in the summer.
Today, I haul my baggage, press into nearly
empty streets of Florida. The Waffle House
down the road shadowed by Spanish Moss.
The noise of a brown pelican in the sky.
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.