By Wafia Zia



9 weeks ago summer was kinder to us.

With candlesticks and Midsummer Commons we laughed,
the sunset never stopped our light,
we were kids with a limbo-like future.

There was no guilt as I told the truth to you that week.

Shaky hands hold an earthquake.
All the things he did,
all the things he was going to do.
‘Stay safe.’
‘I’ll try.’

8 weeks ago I was screaming for forgiveness.

I think it’s ingrained in my algorithm to feel,
I don’t think I’ll ever stop chasing people.
Caring doesn’t mean actions; it’s just empty words.
‘She just wants attention and you know it.’
‘I know.’

7 weeks ago you said things would be ok.

We’d lost people, I think that’s just life –
but even a happy meal wasn’t changing things.
I remember it all, the cobblestones and the tears.
‘You can’t fight fate.’
‘I know but I’m praying.’

6 weeks ago the ‘goodbyes’ were difficult.

My dreams were messy and your cheeks were puffy.
How does one confront their future with strength?
I didn’t know what to do with my own fear.
‘I’m scared.’
‘You haven’t got a choice.’

5 weeks ago my world was a different place.

The Doha airport is fuzzy in my memory.
Nausea rising up my throat,
my knuckles are bleeding.
‘Board the flight and just face it, face your future.’

4 weeks ago the sun had burnt my back.

A and E signs stand behind me;
I don’t know what I was thinking,
thinking I could stand up to all these rules,
all these customs designed to cut me out.
‘You’re all monsters.’
‘And you’re too emotional.’

I thought that was a strength.
I guess I was wrong.

3 weeks ago my bathroom light flickered 5 times.

You called to tell me flowers bloomed strongest after darkness;
I told you that I wasn’t a flower anymore.
I was ugly and decayed, the dirt wouldn’t come off.
My voice cracked while performing that night –
it’s on her wedding video too.
‘I don’t know what to say.’
‘Just don’t let me suffer.’

2 weeks ago my anger was a mere grimace.

Stories silenced by the hush of authority.
I knew I was fighting an unwinnable war;
at least I wasn’t mortally wounded yet.
It was raining on your side of the call.
‘How are you.’
‘I don’t know.’

1 week ago the ordeal was over.

The flight back home was silent, pained.
I was thinking about how a parent could send their child away like that,
send them into hell, knowing they’d get burnt.
‘I’ll never forgive you for what happened.’
‘You don’t know what I did to try and protect you.’

But the damage is already done.

I am overflowing but my hands are empty,
marked with a shame I can’t remove,
a love I can’t fully conceive of.
‘Find peace.’
‘I will.’

9 weeks ago the life I was living
was not the one I wanted.

But I think that’s okay.
Anger is good for poetry.

Header image by Benjamin Horn

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