‘The islands waving at her through the kitchen window, three boys waiting at the table, a chocolate spaniel circling their feet, and between them all; endless tattie scones.’
Nasim Rebecca Asl is a Geordie-Persian poet and journalist based in Glasgow. Her work has been featured in Skin Deep, Young Poet’s Network and Now Then Magazine, as well as Tapsalteerie’s anthology pamphlet Ceremony. She’s performed her work in cities across Scotland and was featured in Sorry I Was On Mute, part of the inaugural Fringe of Colour Films. She’s an alumna of The Writing Squad and is participating in 2020’s Traverse Young Writers Programme.
Mamanbozorg splits threads in the Caspian sun. We hear again
her rusted tongue speak, weave, paint carpets Persian. Here again,
the lambs she lambed raise their heads at the sound of her song.
Her roosari dances. She calls to a God who answers, and cheers again:
Golgaz. Sweet flowers shed thorns and burst through dry soil to
carpet her feet. Sunlight holds her. She won’t disappear again.
Under a pall of flour she kneads. Births noon and cherry wine.
Saffron, rose and thyme crescendo in her mouth. She feels again,
moves to the city where her children grew with the mountains.
Dusk breaks. She toddles the ninis to the park. Happy tears again.
She crosses the world and wonders if it’s faith keeping the plane
adrift. A runway of stars lead her to us. The skies clear again.
Baba gets a chance to say goodbye but won’t. Not again. She makes
Space for me beside her and says “Nasim, bia inja” -Come here, again.
Golgaz My grandmother’s name
Ninis nini = baby, plus English plural
Bia inja come here
(This poem first appeared in Ceremony, published by Tapsalteerie)
You’ll need the scissors for this. Grab them from the cutlery drawer (top left); the ones with the blue handles. Separate the sausages. Say sorry as you split skin from skin. Do not imagine the pain they must be feeling, the sadness of being pressed so close and suddenly torn apart. Be glad you cannot hear them cry as you rip them from their friends.
Close the oven. Forget them, for now.
Bring the hob to life. Savour the lick and the woosh as the fire bursts into being and kisses the back of the pan. Add a generous helping of butter. Tilt. Let it paint the black in liquid gold. Think of holding a buttercup in your once tiny hands and offering it to the smiling face of your mam. Feel the catch in your four-year-old throat when the glow lit her skin.
Liberate potato from packet. Lay down the scone into your pool of sunlight. Use your now grown hands to massage. Paint. Give peace. Wait for the butter to bubble in excitement, and flip – admire the newfound melanin, the honey flower dew of its skin. Wait for the fat to crescendo, to fade. Rescue from the embers.
Bring the sausages into the cold. Ignore their frightened hiss: instead, admire the split in their seams. Build a meal with their bricks. Steal a bite and travel to your first festival, the first-love of your life. Remember the hungover sandwich you paid dearly for; how tomato sauce stained the corner of his lips while the afternoon flushed his cheeks and your makeshift fire danced in his eyes. How he offered you the last bite; how you kissed the ketchup from his skin.
His bloody smile.
Take a photo first, to prove you took your friend’s advice – they’re golden brown. He said this was best. Savour your first bite. Feel the butter seep into your tongue, let the soft starch fill your soul. Enjoy your taste of his childhood. Think unbidden now of his mother, looking out towards the west-coast sea. The islands waving at her through the kitchen window, three boys waiting at the table, a chocolate spaniel circling their feet, and between them all; endless tattie scones.
(This poem was first published in Staying Home, a response to Covid-19 by The Writing Squad)
a book spine poem
Touching from a distance
the left hand of God.
The beating of his wings
the forbidden echo burning
a thousand splendid suns.
Tender is the night,
sincerity the noonday demon,
the testaments geography
for the lost. I’d die for you
if they come for us.
Brave new girl, girl, woman,
other: this is going to hurt.
Imagine dragons and freelance whales,
spiralling past shadow realms and
tumbling into our heavens.
Under the beat of wings and enormity
we’re folding desperate stars with desperate
fingers, bleeding dust through broken skin.
My shaking hands found worlds. Blue cut
crease, turn, twist, repeat. I fill tiny globes
with my own oxygen, breathe sharp edges soft.
Your right eye squints through an eyelash forest.
Checkered sleeves watch from your elbows.
Your hands stroke, coax the paper birds into being,
cracked lips kissing life into the creases of their necks.
Creation blossoms in the corner of your mouth.
Hurtling, we birth an army of cranes.
We release them as oblivion rests
on the horizon. Floating on the edge of our breath
they pass into nebulas and we’re rewarded
with the whisper of a wish.
You can find out more about Nasim’s work by following her on Twitter and Instagram @nasimrasl