every poem before this was a broken promise.

the next time my fingers speak,
my lips won't be ready for yours.

the next time my seething resolve crumbles like tea-kissed plain cake,
change my name; say it the way first-timers do. return my shame
at being the only mispronounced girl in class.

don't wait till my stomach remembers to eat, aching
at housing shard of claw-imagined nails, bitten to forget
the desperate in each fingertip. don't wait until they're ready.

the next time I'm so tired my tongue slurs and likes it,
tell me I can put myself to sleep at night. tell me his hands
were ready for more than the arch of my back no matter
how much he salivated at the corners of his mouth for it.

tell me I am more than this body;
some days it helps to hear I am more than the minutes
I spilled into regressing and forming into

some days there is comfort in knowing
these limbs only carry my heart from one break
to the other. the breathing space in between
is where it learned to nurse spring.

the next time my mother says, "you were a spring baby,"
tell me March is only rain from the Western depressions
and drown every
echo of the choking readiness
of my hands.


from all the colors my hair has worn, released November 4, 2016



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Orooj-e-Zafar Islamabad, Pakistan

I love stories and pouring meaning into everything humans do.

learning to be softer since '96.

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