your name was supposed to mean bravery

from by Orooj-e-Zafar



this poem was first published at Persephone's Daughters Issue 2. read here:


I remember the thirst for your acknowledgement
etched at my throat and the acid
burning from ulcers I hadn't
poisoned my teeth with
my tongue is still taut and folded
at the base-

"girls are seen, not heard,"

I was so eager to listen
for the next order, the next parliamentary
speech on modesty
as if a mother's fear had taught me nothing
and a father's silence didn't make
humiliation course
through the attic of my chest.

you waited for my prostration -
me at my holiest to inspect my body
for foreign touch - and lit every hair
out of its designated place
on rage.

puberty was streamlined and nulled
to meet your prerequisites but my tongue
that sullen, loose demon you tried
so hard to exorcise still bit
your undressed illness at its core
didn't it?

you asked me once where my pain
came from and how a body so fit
for your control could house it.

my mind has stopped racing
and my heart has learned to follow.
my skin has been recycled and learned
to fight exponentially harder if you are ever
near again

my body has learned to exhume illness
like the acid reflux your face conjures
and exit relieves

oh my tongue just got sharper from
going to war with all versions of your perversions.

you wanted me to be a surgeon,
didn't you? now watch this scalpel
of a poem dig under your nails for remorse
watch it delve into your chest for a closer
look at your manic ventilation
at my skilled hands

watch me
cut out your every

(your hollow is a ghost I have learned to unsee.)


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



all rights reserved


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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