Karbala | Orooj-e-Zafar

On the same earth, consciences can’t shift weight,
Karbala shook time as the only dimension
it could touch. How else would I know the taste
of dry soil in my throat? How else would I celebrate
neck-birthmarks as proximity to martyrs?

I have often wondered how Karbala never
ran out of sand. We have filled bottles of its skin,
in hopes of knowing, in the least, the blood
of the Seal. How else would I have learned
to fear crowds outside my nasal margin?
How else would I know exactly what a stake
through the heart feels like?

I have history tattooed on the backs of all my toes,
so the earth that hasn’t touched blood yet
knows what it is to house an ache
that even time hesitates to mention.

Too many of us have constructed bliss
from the ruins of a loss we excuse to forget–
it was a different time, we say. Our three
days of mourning are over.
A blood the Seal did not touch once cried out,
anyone with open eyes wouldn’t want
to be anywhere near us. We scared life
out of our Galaxy.

It is easier to live, to ache only when our knees
scratch, only when roommates remember
to be their own people. Why taste tainted
earth when you can savour sweet deceit?

Why else would we still remember?
(How can you forget?)

Orooj-e-Zafar knew she was a spoken word poet when a stranger told her she should read out books for a living. She was most recently published in America is Not the World – a Pankhearst anthology, Sula Collective, Persephone’s Daughters and Rising Phoenix Review. She resides in her hometown, Islamabad, Pakistan.


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