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PART OF THE Shelter ISSUE

‘Hawwa loves many things, and what she loves she gives a name’

Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet living in Scotland and is a current Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh. Her chapbook, Faces That Fled the Wind, was picked by Camille Rankine as the winner of the 2018 BOAAT Chapbook prize and we are delighted to share some poems from that collection with you.

 

Poems taken from Faces That Fled the Wind
By Alycia Pirmohamed
Published by BOAAT Press

 

Ways of Looking

Every prayer is a heron at first glance,
the marbled neck of someone

indistinguishable from this house.

Every figure     wildreed     unbelonged cursive
is a morning’s mound of sugar.

This mosque is a wood
where I sit cross-legged,
alder straight.

Where I mirror my mother’s
twenty-year-ago askings.

This mosque is a cut of apple—
I mistake each slice for a mouth

—I mistake the back of every head
for my father;
red gala, ambrosia, faces arranged into
holy sorrows.

He is here with cloves packed
into his wounds.

I am here because there are wounds
packed into my wounds.

In my language, every line is a fallen thing.

In my other language,

.

 

Mother’s

I am imagining again,
her story
of resin and cassava,
thin blood,

and flight.

It is mine, too,
like mirrors
inherited only
from mother, to mother,

to daughter—
eventually.

That smaller
tether
in every cell,
a helix of hushes,

sweet, tart
grapes on the vine.

All of the firsts
accruing in a body,

one voice
splitting into its Februarys

and its silences—

first dab of oil,
first whole nutmeg,
first unknotting
of adolescent hair—

first heartache,
its spectrogram passed
down,

whale song

from chest to chest,
an echo slickened
with rain and salt
and habit.

 

Hawwa is Creating Her Garden

Before her, the clay
of evergreen and juniper and oak.

Hawwa drinks sweet water from the well

studies the spine of each tree,
kisses each face

she finds in the river.

Hawwa is this garden. Look closely

at the rosary beads that glisten
like blackberries

on the bough.

Hawwa is olivine
and zinc,

she has planted seeds beneath the highest point
of the sun

and unfolded her body
onto the earth. She rises

like an eagle,
and laughs like a wasp.

Hawwa loves many things, and what she loves

she gives a name—the birds
that ki ki ki

are northern flickers. She cracks open a
pistachio

and delights in its snap.

Hawwa is heart and animal and breast and god.

 

Faces That Fled the Wind by Alycia Pirmohamed is published by BOAAT Press.

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